Prosecutors: Bacardi, Sears, & Reliant Energy gave thousands for DeLay access



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Posted on November 8, 2010 at 7:13 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 8 at 7:16 PM

Business lobbyists who worked for companies including Bacardi, Sears, and Reliant Energy testified Monday at the start of the second week of Tom DeLay’s political corruption trial.

Prosecutors questioned the lobbyists to try and show jurors that the companies wanted DeLay’s attention.
Monday morning DeLay was confident on his way into the Travis County Courthouse.
“This is all politics. You may not like it, but there’s nothing criminal here,” said DeLay.
In 2002, corporate donations flowed into the political action committee, “Texans for a Republican Majority” to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

Now Tom DeLay is trying to convince a Travis County jury that those corporate donations were used legally.
He is charged with money laundering and conspiracy. Prosecutors say he illegally funneled $190,000 in corporate donations to try and elect seven Republican lawmakers in 2002.
Before the start of witness testimony Monday morning, former Bacardi lobbyist, Jorge Rodriguez-Marquez, joked with DeLay about his time on "Dancing with the Stars" before he testified for the prosecution.
Marquez told jurors that Florida based Bacardi USA donated $20,000 to TRMPAC in 2002, but testified he did not know how the money would be used.
The state says the company was only trying to get DeLay's attention.
“They were giving corporate dollars to a Texas political action committee even though they had no real business except to influence Tom DeLay,” said Travis County Assistant District Attorney Gary Cobb.
DeLay's attorney argues he was only a figurehead at TRMPAC and had no decision making power.
“There’s nothing sinister about it. It's the way things are done in politics,” said DeLay.
So far the state has presented little evidence that directly links DeLay to wrongdoing, but prosecutors say that is coming.
“I think you will hear voices of witnesses that will tie him directly to the transaction at the root of all of this, and you will hear that before the week is over,” said Cobb.

DeLay faces up to life in prison if convicted. He has asked a judge to decide his punishment.