White blasts Perry land deal

Demo­crat ques­tions gover­nor’s hon­esty at sher­iffs con­ven­tion

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO&STATE - By Corrie MacLag­gan

FORT WORTH — Demo­cratic gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Bill White on Mon­day con­tin­ued his streak of ham­mer­ing GOP Gov. Rick Perry pub­licly, this time ques­tion­ing whether the gover­nor acted with in­tegrity dur­ing a land deal sev­eral years ago in Horse­shoe Bay.

Ad­dress­ing a Sher­iffs’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Texas con­fer­ence, White asked law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials how long they thought it would take for them to be un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion if they made a large sum of money buy­ing a piece of land for less than mar­ket price and sell­ing it for more.

“Ask your­self that ques­tion,” White told a ball­room full of at­ten­dees of the con­ven­tion, which at­tracted more than 1,500 cow­boy-hat­ted sher­iffs and other law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials.

White was re­fer­ring to a Dal­las Morn­ing News re­port Sun­day that said ev­i­dence showed “Perry’s in­vest­ment was en­hanced by a se­ries of pro­fes­sional cour­te­sies and per­sonal fa­vors.” The news­pa­per hired an ap­praiser who con­cluded that the re­sort prop­erty was worth more than Perry paid when he bought it from his friend state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horse­shoe Bay, in 2001, and less than Perry sold it for in 2007 — which the story said might have helped the gover­nor earn an ex­tra $500,000.

Con­tin­ued from B

White has also been at­tack­ing Perry for liv­ing in a tax­payer-funded rental home and for what he called a light state work sched­ule.

Perry de­fended the land deal dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Mon­day that fo­cused on his law-en­force­ment ef­forts. He pointed out that ap­praisals fre­quently vary.

“We did ev­ery­thing open and hon­est, at arm’s length,” Perry told re­porters be­fore giv­ing a speech to the sher­iffs. “I think just about any­body that in­vested in Cen­tral Texas prop­erty be­tween 2000 and 2007 prob­a­bly showed a profit.”

Perry then struck back at White, telling re­porters that it was “ar­ro­gant” of White to call on Perry to re­lease more in­for­ma­tion about the land deal when White hasn’t re­leased his in­come tax re­turns from his time as deputy U.S. sec­re­tary of en­ergy in the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“He re­fuses to let the peo­ple of the state of Texas see how he was mak­ing money when he was sup­pos­edly work­ing for the peo­ple of this coun­try,” Perry said.

Perry’s speech to the law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials didn’t fo­cus on White at all. In­stead, Perry high­lighted leg­is­la­tion he has ve­toed that he said would have limited the author­ity of law-en­force­ment of­fi­cers. For ex­am­ple, Se­nate Bill 730, from 2001, would have limited of­fi­cers’ dis­cre­tion in mak­ing ar­rests for traf­fic vi­o­la­tions, he said.

“From time to time, there’s some folks in the Leg­is­la­ture that kind of get a lit­tle lost,” Perry said.

And he said that the U.S.Mex­ico border con­tin­ues to present the great­est chal­lenge to pro­tect­ing Tex­ans.

“Drug lords in Mex­ico are play­ing for keeps,” Perry said. “Their prox­im­ity to Texas is a grow­ing threat.”

Perry, who fre­quently bashes Washington, crit­i­cized the fed­eral govern­ment’s record on se­cur­ing the border. He said that even his “Ag­gie math” tells him it’s not fair that Texas, which has 64 per­cent of the border, is get­ting just 20 per­cent of the 1,200 Na­tional Guard troops Pres­i­dent Barack Obama is send­ing to the south­ern border.

The gover­nor said he has in­vited Obama — who will be in Texas in Au­gust — to meet with him to dis­cuss how Border Pa­trol of­fi­cers in the Lone Star State are “out­gunned and ‘We did ev­ery­thing open and hon­est, at arm’s length,’ Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Mon­day of his Horse­shoe Bay land deal. Shift­ing fo­cus later that day, Perry told a state sher­iffs con­ven­tion that he’s seek­ing a big­ger com­mit­ment from Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on border se­cu­rity. Demo­cratic gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Bill White asked at­ten­dees at the Sher­iffs’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Texas con­fer­ence to pon­der what would hap­pen to them if they made the sort of real es­tate deal that Rick Perry did in Horse­shoe Bay. A re­port es­ti­mated that Perry made $500,000 on the trans­ac­tion. out­manned.”

“I’d ask him to take his com­mit­ment and move it up a few notches so that our border can truly, thor­oughly be se­cure,” Perry said.

White told re­porters that in Perry’s 9½ years as gover­nor, he “has not been ef­fec­tive in de­liv­er­ing what we need to se­cure the border.”

He said that he would “be a work­horse, and not a show horse.”

And he said he wants a task force to ad­dress mental health is­sues in jails and pris­ons, which he said too of­ten be­come the lo­cal mental health care providers.

Sher­iffs Os­car Car­rillo of Cul­ber­son County and Arvin West of Hud­speth County — whose ad­ja­cent West Texas coun­ties are just east of El Paso — said it’s Perry’s com­mit­ment to the border that has se­cured their sup­port of his cam­paign. Though the sher­iffs as­so­ci­a­tion isn’t en­dors­ing a gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date, a num­ber of in­di­vid­ual sher­iffs have en­dorsed one or the other.

“We don’t know Bill White,” said Car­rillo, one of eight sher­iffs, all Democrats, back­ing Perry. “We know Rick Perry. We know he’s got our backs.”

But Har­ris County Sher­iff Adrian Gar­cia, who served on Hous­ton’s City Coun­cil when White was mayor, sang the Demo­crat’s praises in in­tro­duc­ing him to the sher­iffs. Gar­cia is one of about 20 sher­iffs — in­clud­ing Greg Hamil­ton of Travis County, Amadeo Or­tiz of Bexar County, Richard Wiles of El Paso County and Lupe Valdez of Dal­las County — who have en­dorsed White, ac­cord­ing to the White cam­paign.

Gar­cia said he saw White “act al­most like a sher­iff ” when hur­ri­canes Ka­t­rina and Rita headed to­ward the Gulf Coast in 2005.

In this crowd, there may be no higher praise.

Paul Mose­ley pho­tos

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