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Texas Prosecutor Probes Frost Allegations

June 17, 2004

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ A county prosecutor already investigating House Majority Leader Tom Delay’s fund-raising committee for alleged campaign finance violations is looking into similar allegations involving Democratic Rep. Martin Frost.

A criminal complaint filed by a Republican state senator alleged that Frost raised corporate money in the 2000 election cycle that was illegally funneled to state legislative candidates through a committee called the Lone Star Fund.

Frost said Wednesday he has done nothing wrong, and he and his campaign said the accusations were designed to deflect attention from the investigation into DeLay’s fund and to help Frost’s opponent in the November election, Republican Rep. Pete Sessions.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle announced the investigation in a letter Tuesday to the state senator who raised the concerns, Robert Deuell. ``Such vigilance is the price of freedom from domination of our electoral processes by special interests,″ Earle wrote.

Deuell’s complaint said IRS filings for the Lone Star Fund showed that between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2000, Frost raised $256,800, mostly from corporations and labor unions. Only $60,000 was raised from individuals who could legally donate to legislative candidates.

Frost spokesman Jeff Fassler said Deuell’s complaint erroneously relies on a filing report that did not include cash on hand from contributions by individuals made before the reporting period.

Fassler also said the account that accepted corporate money was separate from the one that distributed money to state candidates. All fund-raising complied with state and federal laws, he said.

Earle has been conducting a grand jury investigation into the possible illegal use of corporate money in the 2002 elections to help Republicans win legislative seats that gave the GOP control of the Texas House for the first time since Reconstruction.

DeLay has said he has done nothing illegal or unethical. Republicans have called the investigation a witch hunt being carried out by Earle, a Democrat.

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