Gov. Perry Struggles To Escape Charges Of Cronyism

October 07, 2010 1:06 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Rick Perry

In 2005, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) created the Texas Emerging Technology Fund to foster "the development and commercialization of new technologies" and recruit "the best research talent in the world" to the state. Since its inception, the fund has doled out $173 million in grants, which "are overseen by the governor's office and must be approved by the governor himself." Earlier this week, the Dallas Morning News reported that the fund has awarded "more than $16 million" to firms with ties to some of Perry's "biggest political supporters":

Behind the scenes, some of the governor's biggest political supporters have been making investments of their own — in Perry and in companies getting money from the tech fund.

An investigation by The Dallas Morning News found that more than $16 million from the Emerging Technology Fund has been awarded to companies with investors or officers who are large campaign donors to Perry. [...]

The News found that tech fund money has been awarded to companies with which at least eight significant Perry donors are affiliated.

Perry denies any wrongdoing, but his office has refused to release documents pertaining to the fund's recipients, many of them private companies whose investors are still unknown. Meanwhile, the scandal appears unlikely to go away before the governor's election next month against Houston Mayor Bill White (D). Today, Dick DeGuerin — "the lawyer of choice for embattled GOP office holders" who defended former Speaker Tom Delay (R-TX) — called for an investigation, suggesting Perry may have engaged in "criminal" behavior.