White says Perry used fund to help man tied to land deal
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White accused Gov. Rick Perry on Friday of trying to use tax dollars to help a businessman with ties to a land deal that made Perry hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Perry’s campaign called the accusation unfounded and noted that the state never doled out those tax dollars.
White pointed to Perry’s 2006 announcement that Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corp. would receive a $2.5 million grant from the Texas Enterprise Fund to build a manufacturing facility in the San Antonio area. The Enterprise Fund is a taxpayer-fund- ed account that the governor uses to encourage companies to expand in Texas.
One of the founding investors in Sino Swearingen was M. Doug Jaffe Jr., owner of the Horseshoe Bay Resort. Jaffe’s company sold two parcels of land at the resort to state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, in 2000, and Fraser sold one of them to Perry the next year, The Dallas Morning News reported this week.
An appraiser hired by the Morning News estimated that Perry bought it from Fraser for almost $150,000 below market value and sold it for $350,000 more than market value in 2007 to Alan Moffatt, a business partner and close associate of Jaffe’s.
Perry announced the Enterprise Fund grant to Sino Swearingen at a June 2006 news conference. But within weeks of that announcement, the company announced layoffs. As a result, it never received the state
“Although no money was given to the company, this TEF investment had strong local support and was thoroughly vetted, reviewed and approved by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House,” Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said Friday.
But White questioned just how thoroughly the state vetted the company.
White’s campaign has submitted a bundle of public-information requests to Perry’s office for information about Enterprise Fund grants. In response, Perry’s office has provided the campaign with economic analyses on dozens of companies seeking Enterprise Fund dollars, White spokeswoman Katy Bacon said.
But Perry’s office has not produced such an analysis for Sino Swearingen’s application, Bacon said.
Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said the governor’s office conducted an economic analysis of Sino Swearingen, and she provided that analysis to the American-Statesman on Friday. But she said it was not included in the response to the White campaign’s public-information request because the request specifically asked for financial information on grant recipients.
Because state money never reached the company, it was not a grant recipient, Cesinger said.