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COMMENTARY j BY ANDREW WHEAT DeLay’s Beautiful Laundrette IThe recent indictments of Tom DeLayon charges that he criminally conspired to launder $190,000 in corporate political fundsidentifies Karl Rove protg Terry Nelson as the unindicted co-conspirator who oversaw the alleged money laundering in Washington, D.C. in 2002. What is largely unknown is that a consulting firm that Nelson founded has worked for another shad owy group accused of improperly influ encing a special state senate election in Texas in 2003. Moreover, Nelson has enhanced his ties to the Bush admin istration since the time of these legally questionable efforts to influence Texas elections. The DeLay indictment alleges that in September 2002 DeLay’s Texans for a sent a $190,000 check to Nelson, the then-political director ofthe Republican made out this checkdrawn on corporate contributions that it receivedto the RNC’s Republican National State indictment says TRMPAC sent the check along with a laundry list of seven TRMPAC-backed GOP candidates for the Texas House. Two weeks later, RNSEC wrote seven sequential checks to those candidates that added up to $190,000. The indictment charges that this transaction was a laundering conspiracy to hide the fact that TRMPAC was illegally channeling corporate funds into Texas campaigns. Both Nelson and then RNC Treasurer Jay Banning have testified before the grand jury. After his alleged money laundering, Nelson quickly climbed the Rovian ladder, becoming political director of President Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign. There he drilled the army of volunteers charged with delivering Bush voters to the polls. Newsweek report THERE IS NO MENTION THAT ONE OF CROSSLINK’S FOUNDERS IS AN UNCHARGED CONSPIRATOR IN TRMPAC’S ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME. ed last year that Bush campaign field director Coddy Johnson cheered on these volunteers in weekly conference calls, even as “bad cop” Nelson harped on their failings, telling them that they “all stink.” Nelson played the tough guy so well that his campaign colleagues tagged him with a familiar nickname: “The Hammer.” Nelson started in politics early. He was still two years shy of his graduation from the University of Iowa when he managed the 1992 campaign He ascended the ranks of the National Republican Congressional Committee in the late 1990s, graduating to the RNC the very year that DeLay’s TRMPAC came knocking with a $190,000 check. Meanwhile Nelson had co-founded the GOP media shop Dawson McCarthy the clients claimed on DMNM’s weba shadowy Virginia-based group that the American Insurance Association helped launch in 1997 by supplying $1 million in seed money. AJS takes out attack ads against liberal and moderate candidates nationwide without disclosing its political contributions or expenditures. This track record of spending large quantities of undisclosed funds on attack ads has fostered the perception that AJS is a for-hire corporate attack dog. Last year Austin-based Campaigns for People filed a complaint with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, urging him to investigate if AJS violated Texas’ prohibition on corporate electioneering. At issue were 2003 attack ads that AJS unleashed to help defeat moderate Tommy Merritt in the Republican primary for a vacated senate seat in 2003 \(“Meet the Attack Nelson and his partners at DMNM launched another firm this year, Crosslink Strategy Group, to manufacture “grassroots” campaigns for corporations and interest groups. Ironically, the firm’s website pledges to teach clients how to “increase your PAC fundraising” and ensure “compliance with campaign finance laws.” There is no mention that one of Crosslink’s founders is an uncharged conspirator in TRMPAC’s alleged money laundering scheme. Crosslink also employs Chris LaCivita, who helped design Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’s anti-Kerry ads, which some analysts said looked like trademark Rove attacks. At DMNM, Crosslink, and at a new gig at the Akerman Senterfitt lobby shop, Nelson touts his past ties to the Bush administrationwithout advertising the ongoing nature of this relationship. President Bush’s No. 1 domestic continued on page 29 OCTOBER 21, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13