Posted by | October 7, 2010 15:46 | Filed under: Contributors Opinion Politics Sandi Behrns

by Sandi Behrns

Texas Governor Rick Perry has a problem. When even Tom Delay’s attorney is calling for an investigation, you know the story is too big to ignore (although Perry is trying his best to do so).  It’s an ugly story of cronyism, shady campaign finance dealings, and possibly prosecutable offenses.

The crux of the matter is the long-running controversy about the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, a discretionary-spending source based out of the governor’s office. There have been worries for years that both it and the Texas Enterprise Fund have totally failed to produce the jobs promised and required by the terms of the grants. The matter exploded on Sunday, when the Dallas Morning News reported that $16 million went from the fund to firms owned or run by big-time Perry campaign donors. [Austin Chronicle]

Perry already finds himself in a tight reelection fight this year against popular former Houston Mayor Bill White. White has repeatedly attacked Perry for financial incompetence and the misuse of his office. This week’s revelations fit neatly in that narrative. And now this:


 Dick DeGuerin the lawyer of choice for embattled GOP office holders. At the moment, he’s best known for representing scandal-plagued former Speaker of the US House Tom DeLay… is quoted as saying, “This is the kind of thing a Public Integrity Unit ought to investigate. If the fundraisers promised or suggested that grants would go to political donors and then that happened, that’s criminal, plain and simple.”

(In an ironic twist, DeGuerin is referring to the same Public Integrity Unit which brought charges against Tom Delay, and which Delay has vowed to go after. )

Gov. Perry on Monday refused to release documents revealing investors in Texas Emerging Technology Fund recipients. The Perry campaign criticized the Dallas Morning News report for dwelling “on less than 5 percent of the $334 million” awarded to Texas companies and higher education institutions. The catch, of course, is that The News couldn’t review all Tech Fund recipients, because most are private companies. The $16 million we know of was discovered “by reviewing thousands of pages of documents from other sources, such as court filings and personal financial disclosures.”

To make the matter even more politically untenable, the ETF was investigated by the (Republican-led) House Appropriations Committeeduring the last legislative session.  At issue was why Perry had diverted $120 million from the unemployment insurance fund to the ETF, and how $50 million of that ended up going to Perry’s alma mater, Texas A&M. The Committee was so livid about this action, they nearly defunded the ETF.

About that $120 million?

Let’s remember, that’s the unemployment fund for which Perry refused to take stimulus money. It’s also the same fund that he has had to refill with a loan from the self-same Federal government, plus the state has had to raise unemployment insurance rates for employers.

Yep, that’s right: Rick Perry allegedly took money from unemployed Texans, gave it to his campaign donors, and in the process put the state in financial red ink. Fiscal competence? Not so much. It’s suddenly looking more and more likely that Austin will be welcoming Governor Bill White in January.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Sandi Behrns

Sandi Behrns is a noted policy nerd, new media & web developer, and consultant to progressive organizations and campaigns. She is a senior contributor to Liberaland, and the Executive Editor of Progressive Congress News.