Thursday, April 05, 2007

Speculation in Texas legal circles proves to be 'on the money.'

State Supreme Courts

Supreme Court judge hears case of appealing campaign donor


by Rob Luke
Copyright 2007

AUSTIN -- Part of the mystery over who recently gave Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht more than $340,000 to pay his legal bills has been solved.

Austin-based PAC Hillco, funded by Houston home-builder and generous pro-Republican contributor Bob Perry, gave Justice Hecht $16,000 last month, according today's Dallas Morning News.

Speculation in Texas legal circles, reported last week in LegalNewsLine, linking Perry's legendary generosity to Hecht's sudden cash influx, proved on the money. Perry and his PACs altogether donated over $175,000 to the nine Texas Supreme Court Justices last year.

The donation is especially controversial since Perry Homes recently appealed a $1 million lawsuit against it to the Texas Supreme Court. The Morning News reports today that Hillco gave Hecht $15,000 just five days before hearing the Perry Homes case on February 20.

Perry then donated $50,000 to Hillco, one of two Texas judicial PACs he funds, six days after the case began.

Hecht was slammed recently after revelations he had solicited legal-fee donations in February from campaign contributors while also seeking to bill the state, LegalNewsLine reported. The two Republican sponsors subsequently yanked the Bill permitting it.

Hecht has refused to disclose his campaign's contribors until he is legally obliged to do so in July. Hillco's donation to Hecht was revealed in the PAC's monthly filing to the Texas Ethics Committee.

The judge says he incurred the $340,000 bill defending himself from what he calls wrongful misconduct charges. The charges stemmed from Hecht using his office to help boost the failed nomination of his old friend, Harriet Miers, for the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005.

Texas Watch, which tracks campaign contributions in the state, has strongly criticized Hecht's behavior.

"Taking the money when he did to pay for his personal legal expenses, at the very least, calls his impartiality into question with regard to the Perry Homes case," Executive director Alex Winslow told the Dallas Morning News today.

Hillco most recently contributed $20,000 to Supreme Court Justice Don Willett in early March, the PAC's filing also revealed.

© 2007

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