(For a full discussion of the accusations leveled against Bill White by the Perry campaign, see my previous post, “Perry says White should quit the race over Rita contract”) I received this e-mail today from a Perry insider as a response to the post mentioned above: The connection to White is quite clear. The Wedge Group owned BTEC. The Wedge Group had a deferred payment plan with Bill White. Mr. White was receiving money from The Wedge Group when he got BTEC a contract. That is the connection and that is what is wrong. Yesterday, the allegation from the Perry campaign was that Bill White profited from an investment in BTEC, a company that received an emergency contract during Hurricane Rita to help provide untreated surface water to Houston, Deer Park, and Baytown and around 100 industries. The facts are true. Wedge does own BTEC, White did invest in BTEC, BTEC did have an emergency contract with a conservation and reclamation district (the Coastal Water Authority, an entity whose board consisted of four appointees by the Houston mayor and three by the governor) to provide water, and White did make a $500,000 profit on that investment. However, White invested in BTEC long after the hurricane had passed — a year later. There is no way to connect the dots. Today the argument is that White was receiving money (in the form of deferred compensation) from Wedge when “he got BTEC a contract.” White might object to this language, arguing (reasonably enough) that the contract came from the CWA, but since White’s appointees were a majority of the board, I think the characterization is fair. But it seems like a case of no-harm, no foul to me. White was receiving deferred compensation under the terms of an agreement. There was nothing discretionary about the payments, nothing that linked him to Wedge or BTEC or created a conflict of interest. Arranging for an emergency contract in the middle of a hurricane for a company whose parent is paying him nondiscretionary deferred compensation is not a conflict of interest. But I do think that White just wasn’t very smart about the way he handled his business. When you hold office, especially an executive office in which you have a lot of power, and you have a lot of investments at the same time, there is a simple way to insulate yourself against the kinds of trumped-up charges the Perry campaign made: You create a blind trust. Rick Perry is smart enough to know this. Why wasn’t Bill White?
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