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Wheat, continued from page 13 chair of Compass Bancshares. TRMPAC-backed House candidates received $22,000 from the Compass Bancshares PAC four days after TRMPAC fundraisers solicited McMahen in 2002. Two developer clients of Taylor’s have helped DeLay pave the Houston area. Critics long opposed the DeLay-backed Grand Parkway highway as an environmentally destructive boondoggle that would enrich major landowners, including Taylor client Walter Mischer and former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier. In 2003 one-time Lanier housing advisor Michael Stevens headed Texans funded group that spent an estimated $1.5 million in a failed effort to derail a local light-rail initiative. Mischer’s son, Walter Mischer, Jr., tried to broker a deal between Stevens’ group and prorail Mayor Lee Brown. The deal, which fell short, sought to limit the amount of money that rail would divert from highways in order to squelch business opposition to the rail initiative. One rail opponent was DeLay, whose political committees later reported giving $30,000 to Texans for True Mobility. Last year Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal rejected a Houston Chronicle complaint alleging that the anti-rail group had to disclose its donors. Rosenthal, who took campaign contributions from TTM members, concluded that this secrecy was legal because its attack ads did not specifically tell people to vote against rail funding. Taylor uses this same rationale to defend TAB’s refusal to disclose which corporations sponsored the $2 million in attack ads that it ran in 2002. Stevens also sits on the campaign committee of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. After DeLay ordered Texas leaders to redraw Texas’ congressional districts, Abbott paid Taylor $772,399 in tax dollars to legally vet the new maps. Given these track records, Andy Taylor did not need to spell out the new election law that his clients favor. It’s known as “anything goes.” Andrew Wheat is research director of Austin-based Texans for Public Justice. PIs, continued from page 5 THE NEW KID TAKES UP THE BLOCK Next time you see a Hummer on the road, snicker. Not because the ubiquitous gas-guzzler is so over-sized, but because it’s practically puny next to the Bad Boy Heavy Muscle Truck, a converted Army vehicle manufactured by Homeland Defense Vehicles of New ton, Texas. The HMT weighs in at 13,000 pounds, stands 10 feet tall, and gets around 8 miles to the gallon. According to Dan Ayres, president of Homeland Defense Vehicles, the basic HMT can take a .50 slug and keep rolling; go full speed on a 30-degree incline; drive through five feet of water; and tow six tons. In short, the HMT can kick your Volvo-driving ass! Despite its rugged military origins, soccer moms, macho millionaires, and “outdoors enthusiasts” alike will be comfortably ensconced in this well-appointed vehicle. Optional accessories include infrared sequential cameras that beam images to your very own plasma-screen TV, a bulletproof cab, a satellite phone, GPS, and shortwave radio among many others. Of course, what good is all this stuff if there’s another terrorist attack? For those who truly value secufull-blown HMT packagethe “Bad Boy conversion”offers protection against nuclear, biological, and chemical attack. A pressurized cabin keeps outside air from getting in while a filtration system constantly cleans the air inside the cab. For those skeptics who are wondering just how this matters in the event of a nuclear attack, Ayres promises to issue an all-purpose ” certificate of authenticity” to potential buyers. “The full Bad Boy conversion is for when the next terror attack occurs,” said Ayres. “The Department of Homeland Security has said that it’s a matter of when, not if, the next terrorist attack occurs. When that happens, the law enforcement will shut down the highway system… And a man with one of these can take his loved ones, flip a switch, pressure up and literally drive out of a nuclear [or] biological attack.” He told the Observer that he expects to sell 50 HMTs a year and says he’s already had a variety of folks express interest: ranchers, people with hunting leases, a guy in Colorado who wants to lug all his toys up his mountainside, and one man who already owns two Hummers but wants to take it to the next level. Unfortunately, the HMT only seats three adults, so someone who has lots of loved ones should probably purchase more than one vehicle. On the other hand, they could do the American thing and buy an even bigger vehicle. No, seriously, for $1.3 million you can get a luxury motor coach that also provides protection against acts of terror while sacrificing none of the amenities expected by our nation’s mobile elite. Homeland Defense Vehicles has teamed up with Parliament Coach Corp. of Florida, to “match a consumer demand” and appeal to people who enjoy the RV lifestyle and are also fearful of imminent terrorism. The coach starts at a cool $1.3 million. 28 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MARCH 18, 2005