Friday, June 26, 2009

"On July 1, Ray Sullivan will whip through the proverbial revolving door and re-enter government as Gov. Rick Perry’s new chief of staff."

The Governor’s Lobbyist

hntb revolving door

Related Link: HNTB is lead consultant for Trans-Texas Corridor


Dave Mann
The Texas Observer
Copyright 2009

Ray Sullivan is a lobbyist who represents energy, transportation and development companies. He will represent these clients for another six days. On July 1, he will whip through the proverbial revolving door and re-enter government as Gov. Rick Perry’s new chief of staff.

When he joins the governor’s office, Sullivan plans to shutter his lobby business and terminate all his remaining lobby contracts, said Allison Castle in the governor’s press office. That elevates him to a slightly higher ethical level than the last high-profile lobbyist-turned Perry chief of staff, Mike “the knife” Toomey, who kept his lobby shop in business during his tour in the gov’s office. Toomey ostensibly handed his business off to a partner, but he returned to the lobby game — and a similar set of clients — a few years later.

The coverage so far of the Sullivan hiring has focused on the political angle: Perry bringing in an experienced political hand — Sullivan served as a Perry aide until joining the lobby in 2002, and he once served Bush during the Florida recount in 2000 — to run the governor’s office during a sure-to-be-fierce campaign year.

But we’re more interested in his business connections. Sullivan was a prominent advocate of energy deregulation and red-light cameras this session.

You can find the full list of Sullivan’s lobby clients here (you’ll have to scroll down a ways).

He had a lobby contract with the energy company Exelon Power Texas (a contract worth as much as $50,000 this year). Sullivan also was a spokesperson for an energy industry group called Texas Competitive Power Advocates. He was quoted in several news stories this session arguing the pro-industry position that electricity deregulation is working in Texas despite increasing electric rates in the deregulated parts of the state. Sullivan’s group has fought efforts by consumer advocates to re-regulate the market.

Sullivan also lobbied for Redflex Traffic Systems, one of the nation’s biggest purveyors of red light cameras. The company has contracts with 40 counties and municipalities in Texas, according to its Web site. The Legislature nearly did away with red light cameras this session — an effort Sullivan fought every step. On the other hand, the TxDOT sunset bill at one point contained a provision that would have allowed highway-side cameras to record license plate numbers of passing cars. Redflex — Sullivan’s soon-to-be former client — might be interested in that contract, if the provision ever becomes law.

Another Sullivan client was the construction services firm HNTB Corp., which consulted for TxDOT on the Trans-Texas Corridor — Perry’s now-widely-unpopular massive toll road project. If and when another TxDOT sunset bill makes its way through the Legislature, HNTB will likely fight any further restrictions on toll-road building.

Just a few business interests to keep in mind as Sullivan begins his new gig.

© 2009 The Texas Observer:

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