The Austin Chronicle

This Week in Campaign Fail

By Richard Whittaker, June 9, 2010, 6:00pm, Newsdesk

Gov. Rick Perry – the man that has helped drive Texas over a financial, political and social cliff – is demanding that former Houston mayor Bill White resign from the race for governor. Why? Because Perry doesn't understand how linear time works.

The latest Perry ridiculousness comes because Democratic nominee White went above and beyond the state law by releasing his tax records going back to 2004. Perry has been harping on that this is a major deal because White must be hiding something. He just has to be, right? Actually, it's been a delaying tactic to avoid having a debate with White, which the governor's office has seemingly done everything short of deliberately contract tonsilitis to avoid.

Now the Perry crew are touting an Associated Press report that White made money from his investments in BTEC, a turbine company that was awarded an emergency contract with the city of Houston during the aftermath of Hurricane Rita. Cue the howls from Perry that White is a profiteer, as he had formerly been a board member of BTEC through his position as CEO of the Wedge Group and is currently an investor. Perry added, "If this is true, and Bill White did unethically steer taxpayer dollars to a company he had a personal financial stake in, I am calling on him to immediately resign from the race for governor."

Oh, the joy of the word "if." As both AP writer Jay Root and Dave Mann at the Texas Observer point out, Hurricane Rita was in 2005. White had quit the BTEC board in 2003 and didn't invest until December 2006. See, that's how time works.

Quick run-through again: 2003, left board. 2005, storm. 2006, investment. So, since Perry should know by now that White did not have a financial stake in BTEC during Rita, probably time for him to withdraw his groundless allegation.

Did White recommend the firm when asked about competent companies by the Coastal Water Authority? Yes. Were BTEC the only available firm? As the Texas Tribune notes, pretty much so, yes. Did White sign the contract? Hell no. Was White involved with the company at all when the deal to, what was that again, oh, yes, keep water supplied to 600,000 residents and more than 75 industrial and manufacturing customers, was signed? No.

Will Perry try to make it a campaign issue? Obviously.

More worryingly, will the echo chamber let him, even knowing how full of holes this story is?

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