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THE DELAY SCANDAL TURNS SIX Catching up with the players from the disputed 2002 election. By ANDREW WHEAT 1111 he Tom DeLay scandal has been with us longer than most kindergartners. Six years have passed since the controversial 2002 election, when DeLay sprang his audacious plan to use possibly illegal corporate money to bury Texas Democrats. DeLay’s Texans for a Republican orchestrate a GOP takeover of the Texas House. These efforts made Midland Republican Tom Craddick the House Speaker and let Delay reconfigure Texas’ congressional districts, adding six new Republican seats. The disputed election prompted a flurry of civil and criminal court cases. Defeated Democrats sued TRMPAC and TAB. Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle indicted DeLay and other TRMPAC and TAB leaders on charges of criminally tapping more than $2 million in corporate funds to influence the election. The indictments effectively evicted House Majority Leader DeLay from the U.S. House. The criminal case still crawls along. The Texas Association of Business recently copped a guilty plea, retirement is looming for prosecutor Ronnie Earle, and a fix may be in on the criminal charges against DeLay. Some major players who pushed the electoral limits in 2002 have paid a price. Many others have eluded repercussions, been appointed to political offices or find themselves awash in political-consulting fortunes. Six years after the Republican champagne flowed, the Observer checked up on lead players in the DeLay scandal. FIRST FAMILY Recent years have brought upheaval to the First Family of the TRMPAC scandal. In September 2005, Tom DeLay was indicted in Texas on moneylaundering charges stemming from TRMPAC’s campaign shenanigans. In the eight months following his indictment, DeLay went from being one of the most powerful men in the nation to a veritable has-been. DeLay resigned from Congress in April 2006 amid serious questions about his ability to win re-election in his own Sugar Land district. Out of Congress, he launched two ventures that operate out of the same office building in Washington. One is the consulting firm First Principles LLC. While corporate clients may be flocking to the firm, political campaigns don’t appear to be buying its advice. A search of federal political committees, courtesy of Congressional Quarterly’s MoneyLine, reveals that First Principles has received just one PAC payment. Chicago’s conservative Family-PAC paid DeLaythe former PAC-money kingthe royal sum of a $4,000 honorarium. Last year DeLay also launched the Coalition for a Conservative Majority, which he billed as his camp’s answer to , the decade-old online hotbed of liberal activism, which operates one of the nation’s fattest PACs. Despite its prominent links on DeLay’s blog, the Coalition has had little visible impact. DeLay’s slipping traction is not surprising, given his sudden, enormous loss of power. DeLay blames his downfall, at least partly, on reporters. “I haven’t been found guilty of anything:’ he told the Houston Chronicle at the recent Republican National Convention, “yet my first name is ‘Discredited’ in the media:’ One discrediting of the DeLay name occurred in April 2005. That’s when The New York Times reported that DeLay’s political committeesincluding TRMPAC and Americans DeLay’s wife and daughter more than $500,000 during the past four years. To counter any suggestion of impropriety, ARMPAC issued a statement at the time saying “Mrs. DeLay provides big picture, long-term strategic guidance” and the DeLays’ daughter, Danielle Ferro, “is a skilled and experienced professional event planner:’ Yet it is not clear that the market for these skills survived DeLay’s fall. Christine DeLay received no payments from PACs unaffiliated with her spouse in recent years and received her last ARMPAC checks in December 2005. The $12,500 that TRMPAC paid Danielle Ferro in late 2003 were the last major political payments that TRMPAC ever made. Ferro still works for her father, handling appointments for First Principles. DeLay’s brother, Randy, appears to be the family member least affected by the scandals, perhaps because he parted company with his relatives before Tom DeLay’s fall. To bounce back from a 1992 bankruptcy, Randy DeLay formed the DeLay Group lobby firm, which has grossed an average of more than $400,000 a year during the past decade. Some of Tom DeLay’s earlier ethics troubles occurred when he intervened on behalf of his younger brother’s lobby clients. These problems may have contributed to the reported estrangement of the DeLay brothers. Yet Randy DeLay’s business has continued apace, even after he dropped “DeLay” from his firm name in 2002 and after his brother lost power. Randy DeLay’s clients today include Time Warner Cable, the Brownsville Navigation District and Motor Coach Industries. \(This summer a Motor Coach bus crashed on a highway near Sherman, killing 17 16 THE TEXAS OBSERVER NOVEMBER 14, 2008