AUSTIN – Three indicted associates of Republican U.S. Rep.Tom DeLay (search) are being asked to hand over to a Texas prosecutor all their e-mails from 2002 in an investigation into an alleged campaign finance scheme.
DeLay, meanwhile, railed against Democrats in a letter Thursday accusing them of engaging in "the politics of personal destruction."
The latest subpoenas issued by District Attorney Ronnie Earle (search) request correspondence to and from e-mail addresses belonging to John Colyandro, Jim Ellis and Warren Ro did not ask DeLay to provide e-mails.
Colyandro was executive director of Texans for a Republican Majority, a political action committee founded by DeLay. Ellis runs DeLay's national fund-raising committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, and RoBold is a Republican fund-raiser in Washington.
Prosecutors allege that DeLay and his associates funneled corporate money given to the Texas committee to an arm of the Republican National Committee (search), which sent it back to seven GOP candidates for the Texas Legislature. Texas law prohibits corporate money from being used directly in a political campaign.
DeLay, Ellis and Colyandro are charged with conspiracy and money laundering. Colyandro and RoBold are charged with accepting or making restricted corporate donations.
DeLay stepped down as House majority leader after he was indicted Sept. 28. He has launched an aggressive defense, seeking to have the judge removed because of his Democratic political activity and accusing Earle, a Democrat, of pursuing the case for political reasons.
In a letter prepared for the Republican Party newsletter in DeLay's home county of Fort Bend, he linked his case to investigations into possible misconduct by White House adviser Karl Rove (search) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (search).
"What we're fighting is so much larger than a single court case or a single district attorney in Travis County," DeLay wrote. "We are witnessing the criminalization of conservative politics."
The subpoenas seek records from DeLay's political committee in Texas, including billing information and subscriber and recipient details. The prosecutor also has repeated a request for telephone records from DeLay's daughter, Danielle DeLay Ferro, a political consultant who did work for DeLay's Texas committee.
"It's interesting that they're trying to find evidence at this late date," said Ellis' attorney J.D. Pauerstein, who on Thursday filed motions to get the charges against Ellis dismissed.
Earle, who conducts the grand jury, did not comment on the latest subpoenas.
DeLay's legal team, meanwhile, sought subpoenas for three Texas officials — state Democratic party chair Charles Soechting; David Reisman, executive director of the Texas Ethics Commission; and Chris Elliott, chairman of the Travis County Democratic Party in Austin.
The officials may be asked to testify at a hearing Tuesday to decide whether state District Judge Bob Perkins should continue to preside over DeLay's case. DeLay wants the judge removed because of contributions Perkins has made to the Democratic candidates and causes.