All of the news stories are about the same on the agreement reached between Travis County D.A. Ronnie Earle and Cracker Barrel for what is now termed an unintended illegal corporate contribution from the company to Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC), DeLay's state-based committee that was instrumental in a 2002 GOP takeover of the State House.
Basically, the outlines of this settlement are like the other two settlements with Sears Roebuck and Diversified Collection:
1. Agrees to cooperate with the investigation.
2. Agrees to make no more corporate political donations in Texas (corporate contributions can be used for overhead expenses, just not voter communications, so this is not entirely insignificant).
3. Agrees to make a $50,000 donation to a program at University of Texas to educate the public about corporate money in politics.
4. Agrees to to list all corporate political donations on their website.
In return, Earle drops the charges and accepts that Cracker Barrel did not intend to break the law.
The question is, who did intend to break the law? There was a lot of law-breaking.
Three of the eight indicted corporations have settled and are cooperating. Five remain, including Bacardi and disgraced energy company Westar.
Three individuals have also been indicted, and two of them, Jim Ellis, a Washington aide to DeLay, and John Colyandro, the executive director of TRMPAC, are in court today on pretrial hearings. Not sure what will surface in the trial, but if something does, you'll be sure to hear about it here.