White, PAC lob ethics violations over Perry land deals

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by MARTIN BARTLETT / KVUE News

kvue.com

Posted on July 30, 2010 at 6:39 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 30 at 6:40 PM

AUSTIN -- Democrat Bill White is accusing Gov. Rick Perry of acting unethically by trying to trade state grant money for favorable treatment.
 
At a news conference Friday afternoon in Austin, White said the governor and his staff bent the rules five years ago when they announced a state grant for a company in San Antonio.
 
“They ignored their own procedures, they cut corners, and helped their applicant,” White said.
 
In exchange for the grant, White charges that the governor made a deal with one of the owners of the San Antonio company. A deal that would ensure the governor made money on a land deal at Horseshoe Bay on Lake LBJ.
 
 “They shortcutted the original project to benefit somebody who made Rick Perry a millionaire,” White said.
 
The Perry campaign denies the charges. They say the money was never awarded because the company eventually turned it down.
 
This is not the first time we have heard about the deals, and the White campaign is not the only one making the accusations. The Back to Basics Political Action Committee  launched a website pointing to what it calls the governor's “handful of shady property transactions,” including a separate deal involving property in southwest Travis County.
 
It is the same the political action committee responsible for a handful of attack ads aimed at Gov. Perry. The committee has no formal ties to White; it is funded by a Houston trial attorney.
 
“Candidates love that independent expenditure, because they're not having to spend the money. The downside is, you have absolutely no control over their message,” said St. Edward's University political science professor Brian Smith.
 
He explained that it is actually illegal for candidates to consult with political action committees. For his part, White says he has not. However similarity of message, Smith says, is almost inevitable.
 
"Very likely, somebody who gives to the candidate is going to give to the PAC. You can't separate the two. Perfect strangers do not run ads on your behalf,” Smith said.
 
The Perry campaign maintains there is nothing to these accusations. The governor has said he did nothing illegal or improper.

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