Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rick Perry is like a cartoon governor.

A drugstore cowboy, with a gaggle of Mr. Burnses all around him. The fact that these land deals uncovered by the DMN surprise exactly nobody -- ho hum, another 20-year public servant (sic) made a millionaire -- tells you all you need to know about the state of Texas politics these days.

Three years after Gov. Rick Perry's biggest real estate score, questions persist about whether the governor benefited from favoritism, backroom dealing and influence-buying.

The Dallas Morning News found evidence that Perry's investment was enhanced by a series of professional courtesies and personal favors from friends, campaign donors and the head of a Texas family with a rich history of political power-brokering.

Together they may have enriched Perry by almost $500,000, according to an independent real estate appraisal commissioned by The News.

Really, if this were submitted as a screenplay, the studio moguls would reject it for being too "obvious". That's why it would only work as an animation.

The 2007 deal involved a half-acre grassy lot at a Texas Hill Country resort on the shore of Lake Lyndon B. Johnson. The Horseshoe Bay development is owned by Doug Jaffe, whose San Antonio family has long and sometimes controversial ties to Texas politics.

Jaffe's company sold the parcel in 2000 to state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, a longtime Perry friend and political ally. Shortly after, Fraser sold the lot to Perry for just more than $300,000.

The newspaper's appraiser determined in a report done this month that the land was worth $450,000 when Perry bought it.

In 2007, Alan Moffatt, a British business partner and close associate of Jaffe's, paid Perry $1.15 million for the land. The newspaper's appraiser found that price to be $350,000 above market value.

Moffatt denied anything improper occurred in the transaction. "It just happened that the governor of Texas owned that lot," he said. "It was a good deal for me."

More about Alan Moffatt here.

Documents and interviews portray Moffatt as an international businessman active in aviation, whose company once faced accusations of arms deliveries in connection with a brutal civil war. He also has ties to controversial Third World leaders, The Dallas Morning News found.

Well, that's not quite so cartoonish. What about this Jaffe fellow?

Doug Jaffe and his late father, Morris, have built widely chronicled reputations as big-money backers of Democratic politicians going back to Lyndon Johnson's days as a U.S. senator. But the Jaffe family also has contributed to Republicans when the GOP was in power, and Doug Jaffe gave to Perry's 2004 campaign.

Doug Jaffe found success in the vending machine business and made a fortune selling "hush kits" that allowed older commercial jets to meet government noise restrictions.

The Jaffes were implicated in a federal investigation in the early 1990s of billionaire rancher Clinton Manges, protege of legendary south Texas political boss George Parr. Manges was convicted of using the mail to file false claims with a state land official to retain an oil lease for the Jaffes.

In 1989, a congressional ethics committee investigating U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright subpoenaed both Jaffes to testify about an East Texas oil exploration venture that, despite producing nothing, earned Wright about $150,000. The Jaffes denied assisting Wright in return for help winning a $3 billion military aircraft contract.

The federal Office of Independent Counsel reported that it also investigated the Jaffes as part of a probe of former San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros, then U.S. housing secretary. The Jaffes acknowledged they had made thousands of dollars in loans to Linda Medlar Jones, a former Cisneros girlfriend.

Ah, so Doug Jaffe works both sides of the aisle. A bipartisan corrupter. And corruption seems to be a family tradition. That's less of a comedy and more Texas lore.

But back to everybody's favorite governor.

"So I would just have folks take a look at the record, and I think the record pretty much speaks for itself," Perry said.

This will be the most truthful thing this man will ever say.

No comments: