2010 Archives

Business deals eclipse governor's race


The following about gubernatorial candidates Rick Perry and Bill White appeared in the August 23, 2010, edition of The Houston Chronicle. SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

AUSTIN — During two decades of full-time government service, Gov. Rick Perry has accumulated a net worth of about $1 million - perhaps through good investment timing.

However, almost everyone who steered Perry to his money-making deals has seen rewards from Texas government.

Six received key state government appointments or jobs. Two benefited from government actions that had the potential to enhance their real estate holdings. Another was poised to get a state grant for his business until the deal fell through.

The bottom line is, all of the real estate deals that made Perry money occurred because of an insider's tip. The profits mostly go into a blind trust outside of public view or scrutiny.

"Every transaction I have been involved in has been at arms length, has been transparent and it has been reported on so many cotton-picking times that, if there was something there, it would have been reported on," Perry said recently.

Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson said Perry's real estate deals remind him of the story of Texas oilman Sid Richardson hiring future governor John Connally as a lawyer. Richardson told Connally his salary would not be big, but "I'll put you in the way to make some money."

Jillson said numerous politicians have gotten opportunities to make money that would not be available to "the average guy on the street." And in Perry's case, from service in the Air Force to becoming governor, Jillson said Perry rarely has had a private sector job, so "where'd that money come from? He's either frugal as hell or he had somebody bring a step-stool because he got the high fruit."

But will it hurt Perry in this campaign? Probably not, Jillson said, because most of the deals are old news: "It's pretty tough to turn old news into outrage."

Read the full story.

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