While critics were hounding Gov. Rick Perry a decade ago about his job-luring Texas Enterprise Fund, his lawyers went to Attorney General Greg Abbott to block the release of applications that supposedly had been filled out by the entities requesting taxpayer subsidies.
Abbott’s office, tasked with deciding which government records have to be made public, told Perry’s lawyers they must keep the applications secret under exemptions to state transparency laws, according to attorney general rulings and news reports.
Now, though, information contained in a blistering state audit shows that at least five of the recipients that were named in Abbott’s 2004 rulings — and which got tens of millions of dollars from the fund — never actually submitted formal applications. And if no applications ever existed, it’s not clear what Abbott was telling Perry he had to keep secret or why the public is just now learning that millions were awarded without them.
At issue are at least five recipients of Texas Enterprise Fund money: Vought Aircraft, the University of Texas Health Science Center, Maxim Integrated Products, Citgo Petroleum and Cabela’s. According to rulings posted on Abbott’s government website, his office blocked release of “applications” from those recipients after requests from The Dallas Morning News in 2004.
The TEF gave a combined $42 million to the four companies mentioned in the rulings, according to the audit. The UT System Board of Regents got another $25 million for "for the benefit of the University of Texas Health Science Center and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center," the audit said.