By Gary P Jackson
Last week I brought readers up to speed on what has to be one of the crookedest land deals I’ve ever seen.
With a vacant lot in Horseshoe Bay, Texas’ “Pebble Beach,” Rick Perry was able to make $839,238 profit or $489,238 more than he would have made based on market value. In that deal you have pay-offs, cronyism, pressure on elected county officials, and an international gun runner. If you missed this incredible story, read all about it here.
Perry has other land deals that leave you wondering about the governor’s ethics, or lack thereof. The one I want to talk about today is his first land deal.
In the early 1990’s Michael Dell, and Dell Computer became one of the nation’s real success stories. Dell, who was building computers in his garage at one point, had built a new campus in Round Rock, a city just minutes north of Austin on I-35. He turned that sleepy little town inside out!
Round Rock became a boom town, seemingly over night. I lived there at the time, and it was an amazing. The Dell people were making good money, and spending it. Business was booming!
As most successful people do, Dell decided he needed a home befitting that success.
In 1993 Rick Perry, who was serving as Texas Agriculture Commissioner, [allegedly] got a tip from Austin realtor/developer Tim Timmerman about a piece of land in northwest Travis County. Timmerman and Perry knew each other because they both served on the board of an insurance company, Citizen’s Inc. This particular piece of land, a prime 9.3 acre tract, just happened to stand between Dell’s land, and the municipal water/sewer lines.
Perry bought the land for $122,000, using friend and über lobbyist Mike Toomey as the broker. Just two years later, he sold it to Dell for $465,000, nearly four times what he paid for it.
As you know, Toomey would go one to be Governor Perry’s chief-of-staff, then a lobbyist for Merck.
This deal netted Perry a tidy $343,000 profit, and started his very lucrative real estate investing career.
From the Austin American Statesman:
The first of the land deals occurred in 1993, when Perry purchased 9.3 acres in West Austin on property adjacent to a home that computer magnate Michael Dell was building.
Perry was steered to the property by Austin developer Tim Timmerman, who like Perry was a Texas A&M graduate. In 1995, Perry was a special adviser to an insurance company owned by Citizens Inc. Timmerman was on the board of directors, as was former Perry Texas House colleague Randall Riley, whose father was chairman of the board. Years later, in 2008, Perry appointed Timmerman to the Lower Colorado River Authority Board, at a time when the agency was determining the route of electric transmission lines near a Timmerman development.
Perry told the Dallas Morning News in 2002 that he bought the West Austin real estate to build a home, but the newspaper reported the land was poorly suited for construction because it lacked a road and was on a craggy hillside. But the property was needed by Dell for a water line to a mansion he was building.
Two years after buying the property for $122,000, Perry sold it for $465,000, a profit of $343,000 .
Perry’s designated power of attorney at the closing was lobbyist Mike Toomey, a friend from his days in the Texas House. Toomey had left the House to become chief of staff to Republican Gov. Bill Clements before he became a lobbyist. Toomey later would serve as one of Perry’s gubernatorial chiefs of staff. After that, Toomey was a lobbyist for Merck pharmaceuticals, which manufactured a vaccine that Perry later tried to require teenage girls to obtain to protect against sexually transmitted human papillomavirus.
Read more here.
As in the Horseshoe Bay real estate deal, people who helped Perry make this money, ended up with some nice payoffs, it just took a little longer.
We have Perry’s buddy Toomey, the on again, off again lobbyist, who got the job as Perry’s chief-of-staff. Not a bad resume enhancement, and his access to Perry has certainly helped his lobbying career.
Then you got Tim Timmerman. Timmerman was certainly at the right place at the right time, having been appointed to Lower Colorado River Authority Board at the exact same time the agency was trying to determine where electric lines should go, near property he just happened to be developing.
It’s good to be in business with Rick Perry. The payoff, though it may take some time, will always be worth it!
Perry has a habit of appointing campaign donors, and people who help him make money, to positions of authority. Usually those that can directly effect whatever business they happen to be in.
In a piece I wrote on the [alleged] money laundering scheme between Rick Perry and the Republican Governors Association [while Mitt Romney was running the show] I pointed out that Perry appointed an employee of his biggest campaign donor, Bob Perry, to a position that directly effected the Bob’s homebuilding business, at a time that business was about to take a huge hit. In fact, Perry created an entire commission, which has since been disbanded, to help his buddy Bob out:
Well, $5000 might not buy much from Perry, but a little over $2 million will buy you a whole lot.
After giving Governor Perry a sizable amount of moolah over the years, Bob Perry was not only able to see legislation incredibly favorable to homebuilders, [and devastating to their customers] one of good old Bob’s boys was appointed an executive of the Texas Residential Construction Commission that was created by the legislation. There were so many issues with this deal, the commission was abolished in 2009.
From the New York Times story about the corruption surrounding Perry and high dollar campaign donors [and their appointments to influential positions]:
In 2003, after a rash of mold-related lawsuits against home construction companies, Mr. Perry championed the creation of a state board, the Texas Residential Construction Commission. The new commission was a priority of Mr. Perry’s most generous contributor: Bob Perry, a homebuilder who has contributed more than $2 million to the governor over his career. (The two men are not related.)
The legislation creating the board also sharply limited the rights of homeowners to sue contractors for faulty construction, shunting most disputes to the commission. After its passage, Bob Perry and his wife sent two $50,000 checks to the governor’s campaign. Three weeks later, the governor appointed an executive of Perry Homes, Bob Perry’s company, to the commission, which was abolished in 2009.
I have to say the most frustrating thing about looking into Rick Perry’s record of corruption is the more you find, the more you find! By that I mean you go looking into to one thing, and find many more things, and each one of those will give you many more!
High level Perry appointees were involved in the Horseshoe Bay deal as well.
Now if you listen to Team Perry, they will just tell you that Rick is “just a lucky guy” who happens to be at the right place, at the right time.
You can believe that if you want to.
What I see here is a lobbyist, who had Rick Perry’s power of attorney, bought a piece of land [on Perry's behalf] that Michael Dell had to have to connect his multi-million dollar home to city services. This isn’t “luck” or “good fortune” it’s the Texas Agriculture Commissioner [Rick Perry] using insider information, that only political insiders have access to, to exploit the situation for fun and profit.
One would have to be naive to think Perry’s position as Agriculture Commissioner didn’t play a big part in this deal.
There are more of these deals out there, and more cronies to expose. Stay tuned.