February 10th, 2006

Channel One Company's Donation to DeLay Investigated

By Laylan Copelin
Austin American-Statesman

Travis County prosecutors continued looking for ties Thursday between Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land.

Only this time, the trail of money from an Abramoff client to DeLay’s political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, winds back to the State Board of Education and a 2002 vote to continue allowing corporate telecasts with commer- cials in Texas classrooms.

The subpoena issued Thursday wants information about a $2,500 donation to DeLay’s committee from Primedia Inc., the parent company of Channel One, which produces 12 minutes of daily news and entertainment programming for 1,300 Texas schools.

DeLay is awaiting trial on charges that he and his lieutenants laundered corporate money into political donations during the 2002 legislative elections.

Although DeLay denies any wrongdoing, Travis County prosecutors have been subpoenaing records to establish a pattern of DeLay receiving money from corporations with issues before Congress. In this instance, however, Austin lobbyist Demetrius McDaniel who, along with Abramoff, represented Primedia’s interests, mailed the $2,500 corporate check on behalf of the company.

McDaniel sent the check Dec. 3, 2002, to DeLay’s committee in care of Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick, a DeLay ally who helped raise corporate money for the committee.

In a cover letter, he praised Dallas real estate executive Vance Miller for being a team leader for the committee’s fundraising and specifically crediting him for the Primedia donation.

The letter was dated just 18 days after Miller’s wife, Geraldine, as chairwoman of the State Board of Education, joined 11 board members in short-circuiting a resolution calling on local school districts to stop the Channel One broadcasts.

The resolution was prompted by concerns about Channel One’s commercials for snack foods, soft drinks and movies. Only three board members voiced those concerns.

Geraldine Miller said McDaniel lobbied each board member the day of the vote.

On Thursday, she said her vote had nothing to do with the contribution. Her husband, Vance, said he was an active supporter of DeLay’s committee but he denied raising the Primedia money. Both said they didn’t know who Primedia was.

McDaniel did not return phone calls seeking comment Thursday.

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