Perry/Dewhurst UTIMCO letter is about politics
Fri February 6, 2009 3:40 pm

The resignation of Robert Rowling as a University of Texas regent and as chairmain of the UT System's beleaguered investment company, UTIMCO, following Rowling's appearance at a stormy session of the Senate Finance committee, was rife with politics. Rowling is a former Perry supporter who is backing Hutchison in the upcoming Republican gubernatorial primary.

Although Thursday's big story, chronicled here by Patricia Kilday Hart, who attended the hearing, was Rowling's sudden resignation during the senators' grilling of him, today's American Statesman reports that Perry and Dewhurst previously sent UTIMCO board members a letter questioning why they had awarded more than $3 million in bonuses to UTIMCO employees, $1 million of which went to CEO Bruce Zimmerman. The Statesman quotes the letter as saying, "These decisions are irresponsible given the financial crisis that is spreading across out nation."

I don't quarrel with the substance of the criticism. I have to confess, however, that a shadow of cynicism caused me to wonder whether that letter would ever have been written had Rowling still been a Perry supporter. And I wonder if the indignation of the senators would have been as great. It has even crossed my mind that Dewhurst, who has become a Perry ally, might even have whispered to a senator or two that if anyone wanted to take Rowling on, it would be all right with him. I do know this: A strong Perry supporter told me after Hutchison released a lengthy list of her supporters, which included several prominent Perry appointees, that Perry felt that they ought to resign if they were going to support Hutchison. He got his wish with Rowling.

Another question: Isn't somebody's name missing from this letter? I'm thinking of Joe Straus. If Perry and Dewhurst are going to write a letter, speaking as state leaders, wouldn't you think that they would consult Straus? I have inquired of the speaker's office whether Straus was offered a chance to sign the letter and, if so, what his response was. The answer was that he was not offered a chance to sign, and would not have signed if he had been asked.

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