The Dallas Morning News came out with a story this weekend that Texas Gov. Rick Perry used the state’s Emerging Technology Fund to funnel some $16 million to firms that were backed by major donors to his campaign.
Created in 2005, Perry pushed for the fund, which is meant to encourage the development of new technology and attract researchers to the state. The grants — which have totaled $173 million since the fund’s creation — are overseen by the governor’s office and must be approved by the governor himself.
The lieutenant governor and speaker of the state house must also sign off, the News reports, but they wait for governor’s go-ahead before doing so.
In other words, Perry dictates who gets the money. Firms that got cash include Terrabon Inc., which received $2.75 million and is backed by one Phil Adams, a college friend of Perry’s who has donated $314,000. Another is ThromboVision Inc., whose investors include Charles W. Tate, a donor of some $424,000 to Perry. ThromboVision got $1.5 million from the fund.
Perry told the News he doesn’t see who’s invested in a company when he reviews applications.
“Whether they contribute to my campaign or not has nothing to do with whether or not the project is appropriate” for funding, he said.
But a spokeswoman for his office said applicants must provide full financial disclosure — including investors.