WASHINGTON - A Texas grand jury indicted a political action committee linked to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay yesterday, alleging that it accepted illegal campaign contributions during the 2002 election that led to a historic realignment of the Texas Legislature.
The charges, which include separate indictments against one of the state's oldest and largest employer groups, arose out of an investigation by local prosecutors, begun more than two years ago, into the use of corporate money to bankroll Republican candidates for state office. The indictments allege violations of a state law that bans corporate contributions to state legislative candidates.
DeLay, a Texas Republican, was not named in the indictment, although three people associated with the political action committee, known as Texans for a Republican Majority, were indicted separately last year.
In a statement, the House leader said the allegations were "limited to a political organization," but he also acknowledged that he had "voluntarily" spoken with investigators last month at the Travis County district attorney's office, which is overseeing the investigation.
"Mr. DeLay explained to officials what he has always said publicly: His role ... was limited to serving on the political action committee's advisory board along with other elected Texas officials and to appearing at fundraising events," spokesman Kevin Madden said.
The indictments unsealed yesterday alleged that the Texas Association of Business, which represents employers in the state, and Texans for a Republican Majority worked together in a complicated scheme to circumvent the state's election code.
Ronald Earle, the Travis County district attorney, contended that "massive amounts of secret corporate wealth" had been illegally funneled into the coffers of Republican candidates during the 2002 campaign.
Roy Minton, an attorney for the business group, said the state was attempting to criminalize activity protected by federal law.