Texas House Calendars Committee through which every bill must pass to come to a vote. But on that morning, she was just a first-time vice-chair of the House Pensions and Investments Committee. Since arriving in the Lege in 1995, Woolley had received good committee assignments in energy and finance the way of leadership opportunities. Woolley and Lilly were about to embark on a whirlwind fundraising tour. In five and a half hours they would conduct six meetings. The list of participants reads like a who’s who of Houston energy and finance executives. The itinerary is on a typed memo obtained by the Observer and first mentioned in the Houston Chronicle. It’s dated September 9, 2002, and titled “TRMPAC Houston Schedule Hon. Beverly Woolley, Susan Lilly.” What is startling about the memo is not the typed itinerary but the notes written in small script all over the document. Next to most every name is an entry, an apparent list of what legislative areas held the prospective donor’s interest. Scrawled on the top of the memowith likely a little bit of triumphis written “36K day + 25 Reliant.” All told the day netted TRMPAC at least $53,000. Five calls to Woolley for comment for this story were not returned. Lilly, who has testified and produced documents for the grand jury, acknowledged that the meetings took place but referred all questions to her attorney. “Susan Lilly did nothing inappropriate and certainly nothing unlawful and I don’t think she has anything to worry about,” said her lawyer J.D. Pauerstein. Regardless of whether the grand jury finds anything involving the Houston trip illegal, the memo is an extraordinary document. “I think the memo confirms people’s suspicions about how the campaign finance system works,” says Craig McDonald, who is executive director of the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice and who has heard about the documents. “Donors give for policy or access or even more explicitly it appears here, they have a specific legislative agenda that they are trying to buy and the politicians look like they were easily willing to sell.” “I think the memo confirms people’s suspicions about how the campaign finance system works,” sags Craig McDonald, who is execu tive director of the watch dog group Texans for Public Justice and who has heard about the documents. “Donors give for policy or access or even more explicitly it appears here, they have a specific legis lative agenda that they are trying to buy and the poli ticians look like they were easily willing to sell.” After meeting with energy industry people all morning, it’s not clear Woolley and Lilly even had time to grab lunch before diving into the arms of other special interests. At 1:30 p.m. that Monday after noon, Woolley and Lilly visited the Houston office of Charles McMahen, according to their itinerary. The 2002 general election was just 60 days away, and TRMPAC had big goals. The political action committeealong with a highly organized group of allies that included the Texas Association of Businesshad targeted 22 House races in hopes of electing a large enough Republican majority in the Texas House to install Craddick as speaker. To do this, TRMPAC needed a lot of money. That’s where McMahen came in. He’s vice presi dent of Alabama-based Compass Bank, which had amassed a significant amount of cash in its political action committee to spend on the 2002 election. Lilly, Woolley, and TRMPAC hoped to tap that Compass cash flow. Notations on the itinerary appear to indicate that Lilly, Woolley, and McMahen discussed campaign contributions and potential legislation for the coming 2003 session at their meeting that Monday. One note, to the left of McMahen’s name and Compass Bank, reads, “22K directs’ This, it seems, refers to campaign donations McMahen promised. On the other side of McMahen’s name, the hand-written notes read, “Want to clean up home equity lending.” continued on page 6 3/12/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5
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