White says Perry used fund to help man tied to land deal

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Ja­son Em­bry

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

dol­lars.

“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.

Rick Perry

Bill White

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