- The Washington Times - Monday, November 21, 2005

DALLAS — A Washington campaign-finance watchdog group yesterday issued a report that appeared to confirm Rep. Tom DeLay’s contention that he was indicted in Texas for doing the same thing several other members of Congress have done.

The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) reported that at least 30 other members of Congress had used corporate campaign funds in recent years in the same way Mr. DeLay is charged with doing.

The Washington-based public-interest organization said Mr. DeLay’s use of corporate campaign funds through his organization called “Texans for a Republican Majority” (TRMPAC), for which he has been charged criminally in Texas, was “hardly unique.”

Mr. DeLay is set to appear today in an Austin courtroom, where several procedural motions are to be argued — including a request from Mr. DeLay’s lead attorney, Dick DeGuerin of Houston, to move the scheduled trial to Mr. DeLay’s home county, Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston.

In Washington, CPI called its probe of congressional funds “The Indictment of a System.”

“Like DeLay’s committee, groups run by 30 other members of Congress took corporate money and transferred funds to national party accounts,” the release began.

The groups, reported CPI, “accepted a total of $7.8 million in corporate donations to their nonfederal leadership committees from 2000 to 2002, the study has found.”

These organizations then transferred a combined $3.5 million to national party committees, which later gave $14 million to candidates in state elections, said the watchdog group.

The center said laws concerning such use of corporate funds are far from uniform. Twenty-three states, including Texas, prohibit any use of corporate funds in state elections, while 27 others allow limited use.

Until 2002, the study indicated, members of both parties freely used such donations. The center named 13 Democrats and 18 Republicans — including former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat (DASHPAC); Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican (America’s Foundation); and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican (Volunteer PAC).

According to the CPI study, Rep Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, who has moved in to replace Mr. DeLay at least temporarily, recently accepted more than $1.1 million in corporate contributions via his Rely on Your Beliefs Fund.

Mr. DeLay was indicted by a Travis County grand jury in late September, charged with conspiracy to circumvent Texas funding laws via his TRMPAC group. The indictment claims that six corporations donated a total of $190,000, which went from TRMPAC to the Republican National Committee, which used it to help several Republicans win congressional races in Texas in 2002.

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