continued from page 11 demonstrate that the TAB at some level coordinated its advocacy campaign with Baxter, which would be illegal. “On the face of it, that all required coordination of message and timing,” she says. Baxter denies that there was any coordination. “[The TAB] had independent expenditures that were totally unrelated to my campaign,” he insists. These two incidents were both submitted by Kitchen to the grand jury in the form of an affidavit.The former representative is also a party to one of three civil suits against the TAB and TRM for their conduct during the election. It’s litigation, Andy Taylor, the TAB ‘s lawyer never misses a chance to characterize as “losing-candidate lawsuits.” Taylor is a prime example of the incestuous nature of the TAB/TRM effort. It extends to family members of those involved and goes all the way to the White House through Karl Rove. In 2001, Taylor worked for thenAttorney General and Rove protege John Cornyn in the Republican redistricting effort. He then left to join the law firm of Locke Liddell and Sapp that represents Texans for Lawsuit Reform. Soon after, Cornyn hired Taylor to do the same redistricting work he did as a state employee, this time paying Locke Liddell and Sapp $804,478. Now Taylor is the chief lawyer and spokesman for the TAB. He also represents TRM. in the civil lawsuits. This summer, Taylor is again the state’s outside counsel on congressional redistricting. Tom DeLay is another example. He picked his daughter Danielle Ferro’s company, Coastal Consulting, to raise corporate money for TRM. She received a total of $30,897 for her work. In essence, businesses that hoped to stay in the good graces of the U.S. House Majority Leader had to pay his daughter. Chuck McDonald, who has worked for Texans for Lawsuit Reform, created the TAB mailers. McDonald has said that Hammond instructed him to put the logos of TRM and a NRA-sponsored group called the Law Enforcement Alliance of America In September 2002, TRM sent $190,000 to the Republican National The money was corporate cash that would be illegal to give directly to candidates.Two weeks later, on October 4, RNSEC turned around and sent $190,000 in seven contributions to Texas Republican House candidates. Critics charge TRM illegally laundered corporate money through the Republican Party. A RNC spokesman says the group complied with all campaign finance laws. DeLay’s lieutenant Jim Ellis freely admits that the $190,000 TRM sent included corporate cash. He says they gave it to the Republican Party because, “we like what the party does.” Come election day, the Republican machine performed almost perfectly. All told TAB, TRM, TLR, and LEAA had spent more than six million dollars in the 2002 election. Not only did the machine capture the statehouse, it did so with a margin of 88 seats, easily catapulting Tom Craddick into the Speakership. For their corporate patrons, it would turn out to be a cheap investment. 0 n January 14, 2003, the first day of the 78th Legislative Session, Tom Craddick was finally elected Speaker of the Texas House. His good friend Tom DeLay sat in the front row for the occasion. Five months later, at the end of the session, it would be abundantly clear just how valuable a Republican majority that voted as a bloc could be. When the leadership declared something a priorityeven if it plainly went against the interests of their own constituents Republicans in the House fell in line. For DeLay, the purpose of Texans for a Republican Majority could be summed up in two words: congressional redistricting. The historic effort to redistrict in an off-census year without a court order has shattered the peace in the legislature. The famed bipartisanship of Governor George W Bush is history. But despite the damage it is doing to the institution, and the disenfranchisement redistricting will wreak on rural Texas, those who took DeLay’s money continue to try to do his bidding. As DeLay put it to reporters during the session: “I’m the majority leader and I want more seats.” Local business interests that supported the machine also scored big. During the session, for the first time in anyone’s memory, telephone giant SBC’s pet legislation died a quick death. The deregulation bill that would have given SBC dominance over the Texas highspeed Internet market never even got a hearing in committee. Its demise conservatively saved AT&T hundreds of millions of dollars. Even with a protracted, divisive debate, a mammoth overhaul of the civil justice system sailed quickly to passage. This was the long-held dream of Texans for Lawsuit Reform and its sugar daddies such as Bob Perry. Tort reform also was likely a priority for all the businesses that contributed. But the biggest winner in the 78th Legislature was the insurance industry. Big insurance gave well over a million dollars to the Republican machine. At the beginning of the session Democrats and a smattering of moderate Republicans had clamored for a bill to mandate rate rollbacks of at least 15 percent. \(According to the Center for Economic Justice, homeowners insurance rates had surged an average of 58 Instead of forcing the insurance companies to do right by consumers, Craddick and conservative Senate Republicans opted to allow them largely to police themselves. The final legislation had no guaranteed rate rollbacks. Instead, the companies would be required to submit their rates to the Texas Department of Insurance for approval. The final bill also allowed insurers to continue the controversial practice of using a person’s credit history when writing policies. On August 8, the Department of Insurance ordered rate rollbacks of an continued on page 28\\ 8/29/03 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19
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