The indicted former Majority Leader is making wild claims -- first about money that Ronnie Earle has received, and then about how groups like CREW and us, Public Campaign Action Fund, are coordinating.
And of course, we find this in the Washington Times. For the record, the accusations that Earle raised corporate contributions are baseless. Earle received contributions from partnerships, not corporations.
And here's what DeLay had to say about outside groups and the Democratic Party coordinating:
Mr. DeLay said he is convinced that Mr. Earle has coordinated with national Democratic officials, and said the same thing happened with outside groups when a Democratic member of Congress brought ethics charges against him last year.
"It was all set up with [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington] -- they're out there doing the media stuff, paying for ads," he said. "One ad would start, stop at the end of the week, a new ad from another organization would start up -- my, isn't that a coincidence? That would go on for weeks."
He said he does not know whether Mr. Earle is taking orders from Washington, but said the entire situation is collaboration.
"If you step back and look at his operation for three years on this particular issue, talking to the press, of course he's talked to the Democratic leadership. I don't know who. But he's a political animal; he's not a district attorney," he said.
Now, I don't know everything CREW does, but I don't think they ran ads. We did, though. Yes, Mr. Indicted former Majority Leader, we ran ads, as did our Campaign Money Watch project last year. But I have to say, coordinating with other like-minded public interest organizations is often like herding cats. It's not illegal, but it's harder than it looks. Coordinating with political parties can be illegal for some entities. That's why, using "an abundance of caution" as someone recently said, we at Public Campaign Action Fund have drawn a bright line -- no coordination at all with party committees or candidates. We don't cross that line.
Given the gray areas in campaign finance law and regulation, we stay away from any activities that are not absolutely defensible.
I bet your wish your lawyers, Mr. DeLay, had advised you to do the same thing. You're the only one with an October 21 court date.
UPDATE: A reader sent along this:
The Texas Election Code's prohibition on corporate contributions only applies to corporations organized under the Texas Business Corporation Act and the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act. Tex. Elec. Code Section 253.091:
"If a law firm is incorporated in Texas as a professional corporation under the Texas Professional Corporations Act or the Texas Limited Liability Corporations Act, it is not subject to the prohibition on corporate contributions."
See page 24. (pdf)