AUSTIN – Testimony began today in a civil lawsuit filed by five Democrats who allege a Republican group helped hijack the 2002 election that gave the GOP control of the Texas House for the first time since the 1870s.
Lawyers began presenting evidence that they say shows illegal campaign spending of corporate donations to influence the outcome. The trial, before state District Judge Joe Hart, is expected to last a week.
The Democrats allege Bill Ceverha, a former state House Republican who is now treasurer of the Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee, or TRMPAC, conspired to illegally collect and spend about $600,000 in corporate contributions that targeted Democrats.
Texas law bans the use of corporate money to influence the outcome of an election but allows its use for administrative costs for political committees, such as rent or utility bills.