Monday, November 30, 2009

Rick Perry's 'pay-to-play' sponsors include toll-road consulting giant HNTB

Perry pulling in big bucks from Austin political interests


By Wayne Slater
Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2009

While Rick Perry is bashing rival Kay Bailey Hutchison for palling around with special interests in Washington, he’s doing just fine collecting big bucks from special interests back here at home.

It’ll be a couple of months before Perry and Hutchison file their next campaign reports covering the second half of 2009. But here’s a sneak preview, based on some early filings by political action committees that suggest Perry has been replenishing his campaign account with the help of various interests representing everything from real estate and toll roads to liquor and horse racing. Most are groups that have business before the state - and some have endorsed the incumbent Perry for reelection.

For example, Perry got $50,000 in September from the Texas Realtors political action committee. He got $35,000 from the state homebuilders PAC and $25,000 from the politically well-connected Hillco lobby shop, whose big giver is Houston homebuilder Bob Perry.

Other big-dollar checks Rick Perry has received since July: $25,000 from the Texas Apartment Association, $10,000 from the nursing home industry, $25,000 from Houston horse and dog racing executive Charles Hurwitz’s PAC, $25,000 from the optometrists and $25,000 from the BG Distribution wine and beer wholesalers. Although highway administrators have declared Perry’s Trans-Texas Corridor project dead, the governor continues to collect from toll-road interests — $25,000 from the political action committee for Houston construction executive James Dannenbaum and $22,000 from toll consulting giant HNTB Holdings.

As for Hutchison, only a handful of political action committee contributions since July have shown up so far in filings with the Texas Ethics Commission. They include $50,000 from the AT&T PAC, $20,000 from the state architects committee and $30,000 from Valero Energy.

The candidates will file their full reports in January covering all contributions — both from individuals and special-interest PACs raised from July through December 31.

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