Greg Abbott’s shady relationship with the Texas Enterprise fund is catching up with him. Since an audit revealed the Texas Enterprise Fund improperly distributed $222 million to companies, reports surfaced that at least some of the recipients contributed a total of $1.4 million to Greg Abbott’s campaign. Even pay to play is bigger in Texas!
In 2003, Rick Perry created the Texas Enterprise Fund and stacked it with Republican cronies. The fund’s purpose was to subsidize job creation.
In 2004, The Dallas Morning News requested access to the application of a company called Vought Aircraft. This company wanted $35 million to expand its operations into the Dallas area. Greg Abbott refused the request saying, that applications by companies seeking funds from the TEF “might” contain confidential information. Therefore, the applications must be kept secret.
In 2013, the Texas legislature passed legislature requiring the TEF to submit to an audit.
Last week, the results of the audit were released. They revealed many serious problems, including the fact that the TEF improperly distributed $222 million to business that didn’t file formal applications. It turns out, that Vought Aircraft (the company with secrets that Abbott wanted to protect in 2004), didn’t submit an application at all.
The audit also found that the fund failed to keep proper records.
During a Sunday news conference, Wendy Davis accused Abbot of a cover up originating with his 2004 ruling to withhold applications of countries that got millions of dollars from the fund. She wants Abbott to return the $1.4 million in contributions Abbott received from beneficiaries of the fund and she wants an independent investigation into Abbott’s role in keeping secret records of the troubled agency.
“Greg Abbott used the power of his office to orchestrate a cover up of the transfer of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds to companies who never even completed an application for the funds – blocking the release of applications he knew didn’t exist,” Davis said.
“Mr. Abbott did not recover one dime of taxpayer dollars for the Enterprise Fund. Instead, he accepted more than $1.4 million in campaign contributions from the very taxpayer funded grant recipients he was supposed to be watching – and helped hide the fact hundreds of millions of our tax dollars were handed out without any oversight or accountability.”
In short, Davis is saying the Texas Enterprise Fund wrongfully distributed money to corporations under Abbott’s watch. Abbott used the power of his office to help cover it up. To show their gratitude, the businesses donated to Abbott’s campaign.
When someone engages in wrongful and criminal deception for personal financial gain as occurred here, he or she is committing a crime called fraud.
Today the Lone Star Project filed a Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) request for documents related to latest fraud scandal involving the state’s Attorney-General.
Part of Abbott’s job as Attorney-General is to decide if the documents requested in a TPIA request should be disclosed. Since this TPIA request seeks documents that may prove Abbott’s involvement in the Texas Enterprise Fund fraud scandal, he has an obvious conflict of interest. It’s also likely that he will deny the request.
Welcome to oversight and transparency, Abbott style!
If this sounds familiar, it should. Back in March, Sarah Jones reported on Abbott’s shady past with the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas. (CPRIT). While on CPRIT’s oversight board, Abbott looked the other way while CPRIT gave millions of tax payer dollars to businesses that got low scores on their grant applications, or the application wasn’t reviewed at all. At least some of those beneficiaries also donated to Abbott’s campaign.
Rick Perry created the Texas Enterprise Fund and CPRIT. Then he hired Republican cronies to distribute money to businesses of Republican supporters. In both cases, Greg Abbott looked the other way while the cronies gave away millions of taxpayer dollars to GOP supporters in the business community. The recipients contributed to Abbott’s campaign. Whether those funds were a reward for a job well done, or an incentive for Abbott to create similar opportunities in the future, remains to be seen.
Either way, trusting Greg Abbott to protect tax dollars is like trusting a mouse to protect cheese.
Image: Burnt Orange Report