State Senator Jeff Rabon today called on Oklahomans for Lawsuit Reform founders John Brock and Mike Cantrell to follow the lead of the Republican leader of the Texas House of Representatives and return all corporate contributions to its organization.
Stars Across Texas, a political action committee formed by Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, to raise money for candidates who support him, recently returned more than $100,000 in corporate donations because of the legal questions currently being asked by a pair of grand juries in Austin about the misuse of corporate money in Texas campaigns.
“Speaker Craddick apparently wanted to remove any suspicion about his organization’s fund raising and simply gave back almost all of the money Stars Across Texas had raised,” Rabon said.
“Oklahomans for Lawsuit Reform should do the right thing and follow his example.”
Stars Across Texas informed corporate donors it would be returning their donations the day after a Travis County grand jury indicted three fund raisers for Texans for a Republican Majority and eight corporations who made donations to the PAC created by Texas Congressman Tom DeLay.
The indictments are connected to the alleged misuse of corporate donations in the 2002 legislative campaigns in Texas.
“It has taken nearly two years for what happened in the last election cycle to result in criminal charges in Texas. Congressman DeLay’s efforts to elect a Republican majority to both houses of the Texas Legislature were successful, but you have to ask yourself whether the corporations now under indictment think it was worth it,” Rabon said.
“Speaker Craddick obviously doesn’t think using questionable funds to make sure he keeps the top job in the Texas House is worth even the slightest chance that he or any of his corporate friends could wind up going to jail.
“With the cloud of a potential grand jury investigation into the use of corporate donations by Oklahomans for Lawsuit Reform hanging over this year’s legislative races, the only honorable thing for Mr. Brock and Mr. Cantrell to do is to refund the donations it has received from corporations.”
Rabon said a July 29 fund-raising letter sent by Brock to potential corporate donors makes the case of Oklahomans for Lawsuit Reform amazingly similar to the Texas cases – especially with regard to DeLay’s PAC.
“Mr. Brock’s letter plainly said that Oklahomans for Lawsuit Reform intended to use donations from corporations for the purpose of ‘electing a majority of Republicans in both houses’ of the Oklahoma Legislature. A Texas grand jury has indicted three fund raisers and eight corporations for their role in using corporate funds to elect a Republican majority to both houses of the Texas Legislature. The two cases are so much alike that it’s eerie,” Rabon said.
The Hugo Democrat said the efforts by Oklahomans for Lawsuit Reform also bear alarming similarities to another group being investigated by a second Austin grand jury.
The second Travis County grand jury is scrutinizing $1.9 million in corporate money used by the Texas Association of Business for an ad campaign in the 2002 elections. The group used direct mail advertising to sharply criticize Democratic candidates in 22 House and two Senate races while praising Republican candidates as pro-business and pro-education.
“Just like Oklahomans for Lawsuit Reform this group, which along with its corporate donors is under investigation two years after the fact, characterizes the direct mail as ‘issue ads,” Rabon said.
“I’m sure that explanation sounded much better to corporate donors two years ago than it does now that they are being called to testify in front of a grand jury.”
Rabon said the founders of Oklahomans for Lawsuit Reform have a choice to make.
“They can either follow the example of Congressman DeLay whose PAC is under investigation by a Texas grand jury and who has been sanctioned by the House Ethics Committee twice in the last month or they can follow the example of Speaker Craddick who has been willing to give back money in his PAC’s bank account rather than subject his corporate donors to potential indictment,” Rabon said.