Skip to comments.Campaign fund probe expands to Democrat (Martin Frost accused)
Posted on 06/17/2004 4:02:34 AM PDT by Liz
COMPLAINT FOCUSES ON CAMPAIGN FUNDS Allegations echo inquiry of DeLay
The complaint alleges that in the 2000 election cycle, the Dallas congressman used a committee called the Lone Star Fund to funnel corporate donations to Democratic legislative candidates.
`The complaint filed by Sen. Deuell clearly was a smokescreen put up by the Republicans to divert attention away from the investigation into Tom DeLay's activities.' U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, D-Dallas
`Texas law is clear: Direct or indirect corporate or labor contributions to candidates is a felony offense. I believe it is imperative that you investigate this matter.' State Sen. Robert Deuell, R-Greenville
AUSTIN -- Travis County prosecutors said Wednesday they are investigating an allegation that U.S. Rep. Martin Frost illegally funneled more than $100,000 in corporate donations to Texas legislative candidates in the 2000 election.
Frost, D-Dallas, denied the accusation, saying the criminal complaint against him is a Republican attempt to deflect attention from an ethics investigation of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has been investigating DeLay, R-Sugar Land, after allegations of similar activity in 2002. Earle expanded his investigation to include Frost after receiving a complaint last month from state Sen. Robert Deuell, R-Greenville.
"The complaint filed by Sen. Deuell clearly was a smokescreen put up by the Republicans to divert attention away from the investigation into Tom DeLay's activities," Frost said.
"I have directed my campaign counsel in Washington to fully cooperate with District Attorney Earle's office and to provide documentation to demonstrate there is absolutely no basis in Sen. Deuell's complaint."
Assistant District Attorney Gregg Cox said Deuell's complaint contained "very similar allegations" to what Earle has been investigating in the DeLay case. Cox said Earle took Deuell's complaint seriously.
"We are definitely looking into it, and we are calling it an investigation at this point," Cox said.
The complaint alleges that in the 2000 election cycle, Frost used a committee called the Lone Star Fund to funnel corporate donations to state legislative candidates.
"Texas law is clear: Direct or indirect corporate or labor contributions to candidates is a felony offense," Deuell said in a letter to Earle. "I believe it is imperative that you investigate this matter."
Earle has been conducting a grand jury investigation into the possible illegal use of corporate money in the 2002 elections to help Republicans win legislative seats that gave the GOP control of the Texas House for the first time since Reconstruction.
In his letter, Deuell said Internal Revenue Service filings for Frost's Lone Star Fund showed that between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2000, Frost had raised $256,800, mostly from corporations and labor unions. Only $60,000 was raised from individuals who could legally donate to state legislative candidates.
The filing showed $111,500 had been donated directly to committees associated with state legislative candidates.
A fact sheet released by Frost's office said the report referred to in Deuell's complaint only looks at one reporting period. It said the Lone Star Fund maintained two bank accounts. One was located in Texas and raised only candidate-eligible money, no corporate money.
A separate "soft money" bank account was maintained in Washington to accept corporate money for activities legal under federal law, the fact sheet stated.
"The Lone Star Fund individual account contained enough money to cover all contributions to Texas candidates, and thus no corporate funds were ever used," Frost said.
"Contributions by individuals, which were kept in a separate segregated account, were used to support candidates in Texas in compliance with Texas law," Frost said.
Frost is pitted in a re-election battle against U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas. Frost lost his district through a redistricting orchestrated last year by DeLay after the Republican takeover of the Texas House.
Earle's investigation has focused on activities by DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority and the Texas Association of Business, the statewide umbrella organization for local chambers of commerce.
Texans for a Republican Majority used corporate money to pay for fund-raising activities to help finance House candidates. It also donated $190,000 in corporate money to a national Republican committee that then gave $190,000 in legal individual donations to state House candidates. The trade is being investigated as possible money laundering.
The activities are included in a complaint U.S. Rep. Chris Bell, D-Houston, filed Tuesday with the U.S. House ethics committee.
Copyright 2004 Houstom Chronicle
Get this sucker out of our Congress pronto. Conniver Frost has as many scams as a criminal mastermind.
This will highlight something the Texas legislature need to address.
Currently, the Travis County (Austin) District Attorney has the role of investigationg all public corruption charges against elected officials in Texas.
Austin is a liberal enclave, and Ronnie Earle, the Travis County D.A., is nothing but a political tool of the Democrat Party. It is easy to predict what will happen here: The Frost "investigation" will be put on hold while the DeLay matter will be milked for all it is worth. (The Travis County D.A. has a well established procedure for leaking info to the liberal Austin and Houston newspapers.)Before November, if DeLay is not actually indicted, the press will report such an indictment id "eminent".
After the elections, both investigations will be dropped unless D.A. Earle thinks he can get away with prosecuting DeLay and still let Frost go.
The law should be changed so as to take all this authority away from the Travis County D.A. and give it to the state Attorney General.
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