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Judge Drops DeLay Associate From Lawsuit

November 30, 2005

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ A federal judge has dropped an associate and co-defendant of former House majority leader Tom DeLay from a campaign finance lawsuit.

Judge Lee Yeakel removed Republican fundraiser John Colyandro from a lawsuit filed by Kirk Watson, a former candidate for Texas attorney general who sued Colyandro and the Law Enforcement Alliance of America last year, claiming that corporate-financed advertising illegally influenced the 2002 elections.

The Virginia-based group, which supports gun rights and police, remains a defendant in the case.

The law enforcement alliance spent an estimated $1.5 million on a TV commercial aired in the final days of the 2002 campaign that attacked Watson as a personal injury trial lawyer who ``made millions suing doctors, hospitals and small businesses.″

Watson’s attorney, Buck Wood, said Tuesday that the judge removed Colyandro on a technical matter, but plaintiffs would attempt to have him named again as a defendant.

Colyandro attorney Mike Thompson said the judge ``considered all of the plaintiff’s complaints against Mr. Colyandro and has found no actionable or unlawful conduct.″

Colyandro was the executive director of the DeLay-founded political action committee Texans for a Republican Majority.

In an unrelated criminal case, Colyandro is charged with conspiracy and money laundering, along with DeLay.

Those allegations stem from an alleged scheme to launder $190,000 in restricted corporate money from Delay’s committee through the national GOP party and back to seven candidates for the Texas Legislature.

DeLay was forced to step down as House majority leader because of the charges.

Update hourly