March 29, 2004
‘Tomstown’ Scandal Is Replete
With White-House-Donor Elite
Bush Pioneer Donors Called the Shots, Paid the Bills & Mount the Defense
A presidential spokesman suggested at a March 9th briefing that the White House has not followed Austin’s criminal probe to determine if Tom DeLay’s Texans for a Republican Majority (TRM) PAC spent illegal corporate funds to elect a GOP majority to the Texas House in 2002.
“This president is strongly committed to fighting corruption,” Scott McClellan told a reporter. “But in terms of a specific case in the state of Texas…you need to direct your questions elsewhere. I don’t know the specifics of that case.”
Bush’s reelection campaign political director Terry Nelson testified 10 days later before a Travis County grand jury. It presumably was interested in what this national GOP official knew about the $190,000 in corporate money that TRM PAC contributed to the Republican National State Election Committee (RNSEC) in 2002, shortly before RNSEC gave that same amount to TRM-backed House candidates.
If the White House wants specifics, it can follow the grand jury’s lead by questioning some of the elite “Pioneer” donors who pledged to raise at least $100,000 for the Bush campaign. Taken together with money contributed by their employers, 25 “Pioneer” volunteers gave a total of $242,500 to TRM PAC in 2002. This Bush Pioneer money—including possibly illegal corporate funds—accounts for a hefty 16 percent of the $1.5 million that TRM PAC raised. (Elite Bush donors who gave to TAB are unknown because TAB will not identify its donors.)
At least 17 of Bush’s other Pioneer volunteers are players in the scandal or have close ties to such players. These include such major protagonists as Tom Craddick, Louis Beecherl and Bill Ceverha.
DeLay, Inc. Pioneers
Driving what the Austin Chronicle dubbed the ‘Tomstown’ scandal are allegations that TRM PAC and the Texas Association of Business (TAB) spent as much as $2 million dollars in illegal corporate money to help elect a GOP House majority in 2002. The top beneficiaries of the TRM- and TAB-backed House takeover are the two Toms: Bush Pioneer volunteer Tom Craddick and his pal, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The GOP House takeover led to Craddick becoming Texas speaker and redrawing Texas’ congressional districts to Tom DeLay’s specifications. Someday these new districts may help DeLay become speaker of a more powerful House.
Bush Pioneer volunteer Randy DeLay cashed in on his elder brother’s influence by becoming a lobbyist after the 1994 Republican takeover of the U.S. House. Pioneer-linked TRM donor Union Pacific railroad hired the younger DeLay in 1996, when the elder DeLay was a strong supporter of that railroad’s controversial merger with Southern Pacific, which raised anti-trust concerns. Six years later, Union Pacific had Tom Craddick personally deliver checks that it wrote to TRM-backed House candidates.
Pioneer-tied Reliant Energy is another Randy DeLay client. Then-Reliant staff lobbyist Bruce Gibson (now the lieutenant governor’s chief of staff) agreed to give $25,000 in Reliant corporate money to TRM PAC in September 2002 after being solicited by TRM fundraising consultant Susan Lilly and Rep. Beverly Woolley, a TRM board member.
|Bush Pioneer||2004||2000||TRM Connection|
|*Tom Craddick||X||TRM courier and beneficiary|
|Randy DeLay||X||Lobbyist brother of TRM creator & beneficiary|
|*G.W. 'Bill' Ceverha||X||TRM Treasurer & Craddick transition-team member|
|Louis Beecherl, Jr.||X||X||TRM Treasurer's boss; TRM donor|
|Congressman Joe Barton||X||Stumped for TRM candidate Dan Flynn; redistrictor|
|Union Pacific's Richard Davidson/Drew Lewis||X||X||Company used Craddick's donation courier service|
|Akin Gump's Bill Paxon/Jim Langdon/Alan Feld||X||X||*Akin lobbyist sent TRM checks c/o Craddick|
|Jimmy Westcott||X||TRM donor Primedia bought out her company|
|Texans for Lawsuit Reform's Karen Overbeck||X||*TLR PAC gave TRM candidates $686,920|
|†Vinson & Elkins' Joe Allen/Tom Marinis||X||X||Allen pledged V&E PAC money to TRM candidates|
|Tom DeLay's lobbyist pal Jack Abramoff||X||His client the Choctaw tribe gave TRM $1,000|
|Hance Scarborough's Kent Hance||X||X||Partner represents TRM & Ceverha|
|Loeffler Jonas' Tom Loeffler||X||X||Partner represents TRM's Susan Lilly|
† Pioneer Joe Allen left Vinson & Elkins in 2003 to form his own firm.
A memo on this Houston fundraising trip obtained by the Houston Chronicle and Texas Observer reveals that Lilly and Wooley got financial commitments from three other Pioneer-linked donors. Sometimes, they jotted down the political agendas of these donors, linking the solicitations to specific public policies.
Pioneer volunteer and corporate raider Charles Hurwitz of Maxxam, Inc. agreed to give $5,000 to the TRM fundraisers, who wrote “horseracing, #1” next to his name. Hurwitz has been lobbying to legalize more gambling activities at his Sam Houston Race Park. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.—headed by Bush Pioneer Donald Powell—also dropped efforts to make Hurwitz repay millions of dollars for a failed savings and loan after DeLay decried that Hurwitz was a victim of regulatory abuse.
Woolley and Lilly got $1,000 out of EOG Resources President Ed Segner III, whom they noted was concerned about energy severance taxes. Formerly Enron Oil and Gas, EOG went independent from Enron in 1999—four months after Enron head Ken Lay volunteered as a Bush Pioneer.
The same memo suggests that Bush Pioneer Joe Allen, who then controlled Vinson & Elkins’ PAC, promised TRM’s fundraisers to give $7,500 of V&E PAC money to TRM-backed candidates. In an infamous opinion that it issued shortly before Enron declared bankruptcy in 2001, V&E concluded that Enron’s fraudulent off-balance-sheet partnerships were “aggressive” but not “inappropriate.”
Rep. Dianne Delisi accompanied Lilly on a similar fundraising trip to Dallas two days later. They scored $35,000 for TRM, including $5,000 from Bush Pioneer Fred Meyer, chair of Aladdin Industries.
The Travis County grand jury has subpoenaed lobbyist Demetrius McDaniel of Pioneer-linked Akin Gump to learn why he put a cover note to Craddick on some of the $7,500 in corporate contributions that McDaniel made to TRM PAC on behalf of his clients Lexmark and Primedia. In 1996 Primedia, which boasts a Bush Pioneer executive, bought a media company started by the family of Bush Pioneer Jimmy Westcott.
|El Paso Energy||$50,000||William Wise (Ex-Chair & CEO)||X|
|Louis Beecherl, Jr.||$35,000||Self (Beecherl Investments)||X||X|
|Burlington Northern Santa Fe||$26,000||Matthew Rose (CEO)||X|
|Reliant Resources, Inc.||$25,000||R. Steve Letbetter/Don Jordan (Ex-CEOs)||X|
|Robert B. Rowling||$25,000||Self (Chair of TRT Holdings)||X||X|
|Charles Wyly||$20,000||Self (Ranger Capital Group)||X|
|Charles Miller||$10,000||Self (Chair of Meridian Advisors)||X|
|*Vance C. Miller||$10,000||Self (COO of Henry S. Miller Co's)||X|
|Ray Hunt||$5,000||Self (Chair & CEO of Hunt Consolidated)||X|
|Maxxam, Inc.||$5,000||Charles Hurwitz (Chair & CEO)||X|
|Fred Meyer||$5,000||Self (chair of Aladdin Industries)||X||X|
|S. Reed Morian||$5,000||Self (President of DX Service Co's)||X|
|Pickens Co.||$5,000||Owners Robert and William Pickens||X|
|RDM Enterprises||$5,000||Robert McLane's McLane Group controls RDM||X||X|
|Silver Eagle Distributors||$5,000||John L. Nau III (President & CEO)||X|
|Primedia, Inc.||$2,500||Jeffrey Ballabon (Publicity Vice President)||X|
|Sam Barshop||$1,000||Self and Patrick Oles of Barshop & Oles||X|
|Jack Knox||$1,000||Self (Chair & CEO of Sixx Holding Co.)||X|
|†Ed Segner (EOG president)||$1,000||Ken Lay joined Pioneers when Enron ran EOG||X|
|Locke Liddell & Sapp||$500||Partner Jeff Love||X||X|
|Patrick C. Oxford||$250||Self (Bracewell & Patterson managing partner)||X|
|John Woodhouse (Sysco)||$250||Bill Lindig is CEO of Woodhouse's ex-company||X|
Tom DeLay’s advisory “kitchen cabinet” includes Pioneer Akin Gump lobbyist Bill Paxon and Pioneer lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose firm recently fired him in another DeLay scandal. Congress is investigating how Abramoff and an ex-DeLay aide took a staggering $45 million in lobby and publicity fees from three Indian tribes in the past three years. One Abramoff Indian client—the 8,000-member Mississippi Choctaw—gave TRM PAC $1,000.
Craddick, Inc. Pioneers
Texas Speaker Tom Craddick himself volunteered as a 2000 Bush Pioneer, as did key powers behind his throne. Chief among them is Pioneer Louis Beecherl, Jr. The $35,000 that Beecherl gave to TRM PAC made him its top individual donor. The wealthy former head of Texas Oil & Gas Corp., Beecherl sat on the board of Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR). This subpoenaed business lobby gave $686,920 to TRM-backed House candidates in 2002 and employed Pioneer volunteer Karen Overbeck.
Beecherl Pioneer lobbyist Bill Ceverha served as TRM PAC treasurer before Craddick appointed him to his speaker transition team. TRM and Ceverha are represented in the scandal by attorney Terry Scarborough, the Hance Scarborough Wright partner of Bush Pioneer Kent Hance.
Loeffler Jonas & Tuggey attorney Jonathan Pauerstein represents subpoenaed TRM fundraising consultant Susan Lilly. Pauerstein’s Pioneer partner, Tom Loeffler, threw a 2001 reception for Cradduck’s speaker candidacy. Pauerstein opposed the 2003 efforts of Democratic lawyers to depose Tom DeLay and Pioneer Congressman Joe Barton about their Texas redistricting roles. The Texas Attorney General paid Pauerstein to vet state redistricting plans.
With 41 members of his elite Pioneer donor network tied to the Tomstown scandal, President Bush can help “fight corruption” by grilling his top donors about their roles in the Tomstown scandal.