Today the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld criminal charges against John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, meaning the case against them related to their work for former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay’s political action committee will proceed at the trial court level. In its unanimous ruling, the state's highest criminal court upheld the constitutionality of Texas’ campaign finance law banning corporations from contributing to candidates. It also said the lower court had no authority to decide the state’s money laundering statute only applied to transfers made with cash and not to those made via checks.
Back in 2005, the Travis County District Attorney charged Colyandro, Ellis, and DeLay with money laundering for allegedly funneling $190,000 through the Republican National Committee back to the Sugar Land Republican’s state PAC, Texans for a Republican Majority. When the trial court refused to dismiss the charges, Colyandro and Ellis appealed the decision to the Austin appellate court, which rejected the case. Colyandro also appealed a charge of accepting political contributions from corporations, arguing that it violated his First Amendment rights.
In 2007, the CCA threw out a separate conspiracy charge against the three men, saying the criminal consipiracy statute did not apply to charges outside of the penal code (they were charged with conspiracy to violate provisions of the election code).