"The governor had an agenda. It's all predetermined."
AUSTIN — A top aide to Gov. Rick Perry who worked for a company chosen for a $7.2 billion state road project had no contact about the project with the company or transportation officials after joining the governor's staff, Perry's office said.
Dan Shelley was a government affairs consultant for Spain-based Cintra until three months before the company was picked to build the first leg of the Trans-Texas Corridor. He was to be paid if the road deal went through, Perry spokesman Robert Black said.
Shelley gave up that deal when he became Perry's legislative director and had no further contact on the issue with Cintra or the Texas Transportation Commission, the Perry-appointed board that picked the company, Black said.
"The governor's office had no influence at all over who won the contract for the Trans-Texas Corridor," Black said in Wednesday's Dallas Morning News.
The corridor, a network of tollways and rail lines across the state projected to cost $175 billion, is the centerpiece of Perry's transportation policy.
An opponent of the plan said Shelley's previous employment for Cintra added to questions about the project.
"From the very beginning, this was going to be a railroaded project," said David Stall, founder of Corridor Watch. "The governor had an agenda. It's all predetermined."
A Cintra spokeswoman said Shelley worked for the company but declined to comment, referring questions to the governor's office. Shelley's office also referred calls to Perry's office.
Shelley, a lobbyist at the time, began consulting for the company in December 2003, about three months after Cintra was named one of three possible Trans-Texas Corridor contractors, the governor's office said.
When Shelley joined the governor's staff nine months later, his lobbying firm did not take over the Cintra contract or the promised pay, Black said.
State records show Shelley — a lawyer and former state legislator — and his firm were not registered with the state as lobbyists for Cintra, as required for individuals who have contact with state officials intended to influence government decisions.
"Dan Shelley gave advice to Cintra" about doing business in Texas, Black said. "He didn't lobby, nor did he try to influence anyone else's decision's, other than Cintra's."
The Transportation Commission this month voted to begin negotiations with Cintra to start work on the 800-mile route from Oklahoma to Mexico.
Cintra's plan calls for developing $6 billion in new roadways roughly parallel to Interstate 35 by 2010.
© 2004 The Associated Press: