Chicken magnate Lonnie (Bo) Pilgrim came to the Capitol last July to argue for changes he wanted made in the workers' compensation program.
While he was at it, he handed out $10,000 checks to eight of the 31 Texas senators.
Pilgrim said it was just a way to get access to the senators so they'd listen to his case. "All it does is they will answer a telephone call or give you an appointment to listen, to hear issues," he said.
One senator returned his check before reporters learned of them, and the others followed suit after news reports triggered a public outcry.
Travis County Dist. Atty. Ronnie Earle called the handouts "outrageous" but apparently legal. It wasn't a bribe under Texas law if reported as a campaign contribution.
"This is not a simple area of the law. It's not like somebody going to a 7-Eleven and saying, 'Stick 'em up.' It's much more complicated," Earle said.