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ttMtif fr Jr 1+.1J.ii 1161 iorkE SE-C, 2i0106:39i PAY BankofAnteric\( -“J OF r4//{ fi/A*5 /1A40iSei4C/22iZd DOLLARS 8 1.71. 0705 4119 ia DATE cp,A -//3 251.11MU FOR e0010161 0 1:1130000231: 005711 eopici000000/ TEXANS FOR A. REPUBLICAN MAJORITY PAC 400 W. 15T11 ST. STE WO AUSTIN. TX 78zo1.1673 CAPITOL OFFENSE Tommy and the $190,000 The tale of the money transfer that toppled the House majority leader BY JAKE BERNSTEIN TINhat could turn out to be the most important meeting in Tom DeLay’s career started at 10:15 a.m. on October 2, 2002. The Sugar Land Republican who was then U.S. House majority leader met that morning for 30 minutes in his Capitol office with his top campaign aide, Jim Ellis. Ellis is executive director of DeLay’s leadership PAC, Americans for a Republican Majority ly under indictment for the alleged laundering of $190,000 in corporate money. The allegation is a simple one. A local ARMPAC clone called Texans for a Republican Majority had raised $190,000 in corporate money it could not legally spend on Texas political candidates. It sent the money to the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C. The RNC, following specific instructions from Ellis as to the recipients and the amounts, sent back a total of $190,000 to seven candidates for the statehouse in money that could be spent legally. According to the allegations, the entire operation existed to circumvent Texas campaign laws. October 2 was a key date in the story of that $190,000. The importance of the meeting, first reported in the Houston Chronicle, is underscored by the fact that DeLay and Ellis cannot seem to get their stories straight about what happened during it. Ellis’ lawyer, J.D. Pauerstein, claims that the $190,000 was not discussed at the meeting. He also says that Ellis has not testified before the grand jury nor have any of his documents been subpoenaed. DeLay, talking about the case on Fox News Sunday on October 7, 2005, described it as a “scheduling meeting.” According to DeLay, as the two men were leaving the office, Ellis remarked, “by the way, we sent money.” Speaking with Wolf Blitzer on CNN on October 3, 2005, DeLay said, “I didn’t know they did this legal activity with the Republican National State Election Committee. I did not know who they had targeted. I did not know where the money went. I had nothing to do with the day-to-day operation of TRMPAC.” But documents from a separate civil trial involving TRMPAC indicate that DeLay was actively involved in the political action committee he created. The majority leader participated in a number of conference calls about the PAC’s activities, raised money for the effort, received corporate checks for TRMPAC, and traveled to Texas and Virginia to attend fund-raising events. The first public documentation of the saga of the $190,000 appeared on Tuesday, September 10, 2002. On that date, John Colyandro sent an e-mail to TRMPAC accountant Russell Anderson. The e-mail asked Anderson to Fed-Ex overnight a blank check to Jim Ellis in Washington, D.C. “Needs to arrive tomorrow,” wrote Colyandro. \(In a civil deposition a year later, Colyandro cited a pending meeting between Ellis Three days after Colyandro sent that first e-mail message, Jim Ellis”the decision-maker on the PAC,” according to TRMPAC treasurer Bill Ceverhamet with RNC officials, including its political director, Terry Nelson \(see Andrew Wheat’s column, the check for the amount of $190,000. It was the largest single expenditure TRMPAC ever made. Ellis gave the check to Nelson along with “a document that contained the names of candidates for the Texas House of Representatives and amounts to be contributed to each of the said candidates,” according to the indictment. Whether that document still exists is an open question. It has never been released to the public. TRMPAC officials then turned their attention to planning a fund-raiser to be headlined by Marc Racicot, the RNC chairman. On September 18, 2002, Colyandro sent an e-mail to Ellis and others confirming a “reception/dinner” in Houston for the beginning of October. On September 20, the TRMPAC check for $190,000 was deposited in the nonfederal section of the RNC, known as the Republican National continued on page 21 12 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 21, 2005