AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — An attorney for failed 2006 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell is considering appealing a state appeals court's decision to throw out a $2 million award to Bell in a lawsuit where Bell contended a national Republican organization violated state laws with $1 million in campaign donations to Republican Gov. Rick Perry.
The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin tossed the August 2010 judgment by a Travis County judge who ruled in Bell's favor, agreeing instead with arguments from the defendant, the Republican Governors Association, that out-of-state organizations can't be penalized for disclosure violations and aren't required to designate a state treasurer.
Bell's lawyer, Buck Wood, told the Austin American-Statesman (http://bit.ly/GEapvO ) on Friday he may ask the appeals court to reconsider its ruling or take the case to the Texas Supreme Court.
"As soon as everyone figures out what I already know, then there won't be any reporting (of political contributions)," Wood said. "There will be lots of money thrown into Texas, and you won't have any idea where it's coming from."
Two of the three judges on the appellate court panel — one a Republican and the other a Democrat — voted to reverse the judgment from District Court Judge John Dietz. A third judge on the panel, a Democrat, lost in last year's election and wasn't part of ruling.
The Republican governor's group received money from Houston developer Bob Perry, the nation's largest individual donor during the 2006 election cycle, and Bell's lawsuit accused the governor of trying to hide the donation. The governor is not related to the developer.
Bell argued the money illegally was funneled through the organization in the final days of the 2006 campaign.
Rick Perry defeated Bell by nine percentage points in the election, and Bell then filed suit. The decision from Dietz, as allowed by state law, was double the amount of the disputed contribution.
The GOP governors' group appealed. So did Bell, who contended he should receive an additional $2 million in damages.
In its ruling, the appeals court also returned the case to the district court to determine how much Bell needs to pay to the governors association in attorney fees.
Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com