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2 Texas Dems sue Virginia group for violating state campaign finance laws

The Austin American-Statesman reports: In a new assault on corporate spending in politics, former Texas attorney general candidate Kirk Watson on Monday sued an out-of-state group to unearth the identity of the corporations he said secretly financed illegal campaign ads.

Watson and East Texas legislative candidate Mike Head, both Democrats, filed the lawsuit in state District Court in Travis County against the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, based in Falls Church, Va.; its undisclosed corporate donors; "John Doe conspirators" who assisted in the ad campaigns; and John Colyandro, the former executive director of Texans for a Republican Majority, who also advised Watson's opponent, Greg Abbott, during the 2002 elections.

The lawsuit, opening another front in the escalating campaign finance controversy, says corporate-financed advertising tainted the 2002 elections and says that the alliance violated Texas law by not disclosing its donors. State law generally prohibits corporate or labor money from being spent on political expenditures.

A lawyer for the pro-gun, pro-police group, Richard Gardiner, said Monday that the ads did not violate Texas law because they did not advocate the election or defeat of a candidate. It's the same First Amendment defense offered by the Texas Association of Business, which, like the law enforcement group, is being investigated on the question of whether corporate money was illegally spent on political ads. -- Kirk Watson sues Law Enforcement Alliance of America (statesman.com)