|Tom DeLay- Corporate Whore|
Alexander gave $5,000 to Delay campaign before Texan indicted
By MIKE MADDEN
Tennessean Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — Sen. Lamar Alexander gave money to embattled former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's re-election campaign just before DeLay was indicted on conspiracy charges, federal records show.
Through his political action committee, Tenn PAC, Alexander gave $5,000 to DeLay, the powerful Texas Republican who was indicted last month on charges he conspired to flout laws in his home state barring corporate contributions to campaigns there.
A review of Federal Election Commission records by The Tennessean found that the Tennessee Republican was the only senator to give money to DeLay's re-election account, formally called the Tom DeLay Campaign Committee.
Alexander personally delivered the check to DeLay less than two weeks before a Texas grand jury returned charges against DeLay, forcing his resignation as majority leader and handing political ammunition to Democrats who are trying to build a broad corruption case against the GOP.
Alexander said Thursday that he didn't regret the donation. "I made a logical contribution, which was to the House majority leader," he said.
DeLay asked Alexander during an unrelated meeting in September whether the Texan should come to Tennessee to try to raise money for next year's election, said Nashville investor Ted Welch, a GOP fundraiser who runs Tenn PAC. Alexander offered to write him a check, Welch said.
"DeLay did not ask Lamar for the money, Lamar volunteered," Welch said. "Lamar said, 'Well, I'll just give you some money.' "
Dates on federal records filed by DeLay show that Alexander's contribution was received after DeLay was indicted, though Welch faxed The Tennessean a computer printout of Tenn PAC's financial activity that lists a donation to DeLay on Sept. 14. DeLay's campaign-finance report shows the Tenn PAC contribution came on Sept. 30 — two days after DeLay's indictment.
Former Federal Election Commission general counsel Larry Noble, now executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, said campaigns legally are supposed to record contributions on the day they receive them, but often fall a few days behind. That could account for the different dates.
DeLay's campaign treasurer did not return calls inquiring about the donation.
Alexander said he uses Tenn PAC to support GOP candidates around the country and DeLay was just one of 30 he had given money to this year. His midyear report to the FEC lists contributions to 11 candidates, for a total of $55,000, as well as a $15,000 contribution to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
"The PAC is for the purpose of making contributions to Republican candidates who are running for re-election," he said.
Asked if he would support DeLay again in the future, Alexander wouldn't answer directly.
"I've made my contribution," he said. "The contribution is made."
Democrats said Alexander shouldn't have given DeLay any money, even if it was before the indictment. Rumors that the Texan would be charged were buzzing around Washington for most of September.
"I think it's really troubling that he would send him money," said Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Bob Tuke. "That sounds to me like a tacit endorsement of DeLay and DeLay's operation that he had been running."
The contribution surprised some analysts and political strategists, because Alexander doesn't share DeLay's reputation for hardball, deeply conservative politics.
"Isn't that funny?" said Vanderbilt University political science professor Bruce Oppenheimer. "That's a strange one, huh?"
DeLay is accused of taking contributions from corporate PACs into his own fundraising apparatus, then sending checks out to support GOP candidates for the Texas legislature in an attempt to get around the state's ban on corporate cash. House Republicans have rallied behind him, calling the indictment by a Democratic prosecutor politically motivated, but rules required him to resign his leadership post, and it is not clear whether he'll regain it.
Several House members, mostly Texas Republicans, have also given money to DeLay this year.
If DeLay had discussed fundraising with Alexander after his indictment, Tenn PAC might not have sent him any money, Welch said.
"But the fact was, when we wrote the check and when it was given to DeLay, he had not been indicted," he said.
DeLay did not give money to Alexander's campaign in 2002, nor has he sent money toward a possible re-election race in 2008. But Oppenheimer said Alexander might have given to DeLay because fundraisers often use contributions as a way to build up chits for the future, and he doubted voters would remember the issue in three years.
"You contribute when I ask for money, I'll contribute when you ask for money," he said. "It's not what I would have advised, but who
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