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Texas DA widens the probe to include Dems

A Travis County grand jury investigation into the Republicans' 2002 takeover of the Texas House has expanded to the other side of the aisle.

According to subpoenas released Thursday, the grand jury is seeking records related to a Democratic political action committee, Texas Partnership. The subpoenas request information related to donations to the group from corporations and labor groups.

Another political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, is being investigated for allegedly using corporate money to influence the 2002 election, in which Republicans took control of the Texas Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. It is illegal in Texas to use corporate money to influence legislative races.

"The Travis County grand jury is currently conducting an investigation into alleged irregularities in the campaign for speaker of the Texas House of Representatives of current Speaker Tom Craddick," according to a statement from the office of District Attorney Ronnie Earle. "It has been suggested that former House Speaker Pete Laney and former speaker candidate Edmund Kuempel conducted their campaigns in the same way.

"It is important that the grand jury have access to all the facts." -- Democratic PAC targeted in DA investigation (AP)

The campaign records of former House Speaker Pete Laney were turned over to a Travis County grand jury Thursday - part of a new document sweep in an investigation of whether illegal corporate contributions and improper outside interests influenced 2002 legislative races.

Also subpoenaed were records from Rep. Edmund Kuempel, R-Seguin, an unsuccessful House Speaker candidate, and people associated with the Texas Partnership political action committee, which was closely associated with Mr. Laney.

The Partnership PAC contributed more than $365,000 to the state Democratic Party in the final weeks of the 2002 races and also provided political research, campaign strategy and legal assistance to Democratic House members. -- Laney turns over campaign records from '02 (AP)