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TPJ files complaint against “checks aren’t cash” judge

Last month, the Third Court of Appeals ruled against an appeal by John Colyandro and Jim Ellis that would have negated their money laundering indictments in the TRMPAC/Tom DeLay case. In doing so, the court provided validation for the defendants’ notorious “checks aren’t cash” defense, a move that was strongly disputed by other justices on the court. Now Texans for Public Justice has filed complaints against one of those justices, saying he has violated state campaign finance laws.

Texans for Public Justice filed a pair of complaints with Travis County Attorney David Escamilla and the Texas Ethics Commission today alleging that Third Court of Appeals Chief Justice W. Kenneth Law repeatedly violated the Texas Election Code in the course of his current reelection campaign. The alleged violations include illegally collecting more than $66,000 in political contributions without a duly appointed campaign treasurer and taking $10,000 from GOP Swift-Boat activist Harold Simmons–twice what the state Judicial Campaign Fairness Act permits.

Two of the alleged violations are misdemeanors that carry criminal penalties and fall under the jurisdiction of Travis County Attorney David Escamilla. The other four alleged violations are subject to civil penalties levied by the Texas Ethics Commission. If the agency upholds these violations, Judge Law could face civil fines totaling more than $235,000.

The criminal complaint is here and the TEC complaint is here (both PDF). The Statesman has a story on this, but no indication from Escamilla as to a timeline for investigating the complaint. My guess is that it would be after the election, which is pretty standard procedure. BOR has more.

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