Apr 12, 2004
Ivins on DeLay
If you still need to be caught up on GOP House Leader Tom DeLay’s Texas fundraising tribulations, there’s no funner way to learn than from Molly Ivins:
One of the saddest pieces of evidence in the case, found by the Texas Observer, is a memo from a fund-raising trip to Houston taken by a TRMPAC staffer, Susan Lilly. In 5 1/2 hours, she met with six Houston energy and finance executives. TRMPAC and TAB were coordinating the campaign to take 22 House seats for the Republicans, enough to give them a majority and elect Craddick speaker.
Lilly met with a vice president of Compass Bank, who agreed to donate “22K direct” from the bank’s PAC to each of the Republicans in the highly contested districts. Next to the contribution is the handwritten note of what Compass wanted in return. “Wants to clean up home equity lending.”
They cleaned it up, all right. In the following session, the Lege voted for a constitutional amendment that allows home equity loans on lines of credit, a sort of credit card against the value of your home equity, which allows banks to charge even more than they do on lump-sum home equity loans. When the amendment passed, a Compass Bank spokesman said proudly, “We were first to the market with this.”
Oh, and the NRCC also paid its $250,000 fine, due to soft money shananigans from you know who. Saith Roll Call (subscription):
After more than four years of legal wrangling, the National Republican Congressional Committee has agreed to a $280,000 fine for improperly using soft money to pay for issue ads run by an organization controlled by former aides to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).
The controversy over the $500,000 donation shed new light on what became known as “DeLay Inc.,” and helped spur the DCCC to file a civil racketeering lawsuit against DeLay in June 2000. That suit was later dropped, but not before DeLay ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills defending himself.
David Plouffe, our former executive director who filed the original complaint with the FEC: “It’s all too rare when DeLay and company are held accountable for their blatantly illegal schemes. That they have to pay the fine in all hard dollars for their soft-money shenanigans is all the more satisfying.”