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Top Corporate Donors To Tom Delay’s Legal Defense Fund Donor State Defense Funds From Company Defense Funds From Executives Contran Corp./Valhi, Inc. Reliant Energy/Reliant Resources R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Panda Energy Management, LP TX TX NC TX $20,000 $20,000 $17,000 $10,000 $10,000 $0 $0 $5,000 TOTALS: $67,000 $15,000 U.S. Lobby Spending 2001 Present $735,000 $1,075,000 $1,656,000 $20,000 $3,466,000 COMMENTARY I ANDREW WHEAT DeLay’s Corporate Defenders MIII he legal defense fund of Congressman Tom DeLaywho is facing criminal indictment as a result of an addiction to corporate political contributions is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional corporate funds to help DeLay beat his criminal rap. Not surprisingly, many of the contributors to DeLay’s defense fund have business before Congress, where this congressman is still an invaluable ally. Since 2000, when DeLay began fighting what became a slew of House ethics complaints, his legal defense fund has raised more than $1.4 million. This fund has bagged more than $900,000 since 2002, when DeLay’s Texans for a spent $600,000 in corporate funds to help establish a GOP majority in the Texas Housedespite Texas’ prohibition on corporate electioneering. A little-noticed irony of DeLay’s legal defense fund is that it is raising much of its money from the very type of political donors that precipitated DeLay’s indictment. More than 100 corporations have contributed in excess of $400,000 to DeLay’s defense fund, or 28 percent of all the money raised, according to data compiled by Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. The defense fund’s top four corporate donorsContran, Reliant, RJ Reynolds, and Panda Energyspent $3.5 million lobbying DeLay and other federal officials over the past five years. “DeLay is so addicted to corporate money that he is now accepting it to fight charges that he laundered it,” said Conor Kenny, with the federal watchdog group Congress Watch. “The man lacks any sense of decency or, apparently, irony.” DeLay’s legal defense $17,000, the tobacco giant also provided the corporate jet that whisked DeLay to Houston last month for fingerprinting and to take the mug shot seen ’round the world. RJR previously provided job training for Jim Ellis, who would go on to direct DeLay’s national political action committee Americans for a Republican Majority. Ellis is now an indicted co-conspirator along with DeLay for his work with TRMPAC. But back in 1993, Ellis co-founded RJR’s front group, Ramhurst Corp. Through \(\(smokers’ rights” and other campaigns this RJR-financed company opposed smoking restrictions, tobacco taxes, and FDA regulation of tobacco. In recent years RJR has spent $1.7 million on federal lobbyists, including the Alexander Strategy Group, run by former DeLay aides Ed Buckham, Tony Rudy, and Karl Gallant. When the Senate moved an FDA-regulation bill last year, Tom DeLay was there to send it up in smoke in the House. Alexander Strategy also lobbies for Huntsman Chemical, which gave $5,000 in corporate funds to DeLay’s legal defense fund; Huntsman executives threw in $10,000 more of their own money. Huntsman is a major producer of MTBE. This chemical additive makes gasoline burn cleaner but also has polluted groundwater around the country. A massive congressional energy bill died in 2003 after the Senate rejected a House provision that would have shielded MTBE makers from toxic lawsuits. The House revived this provision this year but senators stripped it from the final energy bill that President Bush signed into law in August. Huntsman spent almost $1.5 million in recent years on federal lobbyists, including former Texas Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes and lobbyists at the law firm of Bracewell Sources: Public Citizen’s Congress Watch and Congressional lobby registrations 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER NOVEMBER 18, 2005