June 24, 2004
Strayhorn claims she's targeted by Perry

And the Rick 'n Carole Chronicles continue: Strayhorn says Perry behind audit of office.

The sniping between Comptroller Carole Strayhorn and fellow Republican Gov. Rick Perry heated up today when she accused Perry of directly orchestrating a "political witch hunt" by getting the state Auditor's Office to investigate her office.

Strayhorn said she had e-mails, notes and other documents that she said "absolutely" pointed at Perry as the reason the state auditor has performed three separate audits, none released, of comptroller's office functions.

Citing what she termed a Perry-led effort last year that stripped her office of two of its more popular programs, Strayhorn said the governor was wasting tax dollars by manipulating the Auditor's Office into conducting the probes. She said the audits, which should have been released last year, gave her agency a clean bill of fiscal health.

Perry's office denied her allegation, and Frank Vito, director of assurance services at the Auditor's Office, said the state conducted only one audit of the Comptroller's Office, which will be released in October.

He said the probe already was under way last year when the Legislature passed HB 7, which requires state audits to look at what relationship, if any, exists between an audited agency and campaign contributions made to the agency's boss.

Perry is in Mexico promoting Texas business. Spokesman Robert Black said the governor was not aware of the auditor's investigation into Strayhorn's office, and pointed out the state auditor answers to a committee made up of the lieutenant governor, the Texas House speaker and other lawmakers.

"If (Strayhorn) has a problem, she should take it up with the Legislature, not with us," Black said. "What's the fuss? If she is not trading tax decisions for political contributions, than what is she worried about?"

I have to say, it really is impressive the way Strayhorn has gathered enemies over the past year or two. Beyond her obvious (and often entertaining) feud with Perry, she pissed off much of the Lege last year when she blamed the budget shortfall on a spending party they'd supposedly had in 2001. The Senate took some revenge on her by stripping her office of some audit-related functions. Greg Wythe has been saying for some time now that he doesn't see any likely scenarios in which Strayhorn is on any Republican ballot in 2006, and I'm increasingly in agreement with him. However many votes she got last time around (and remember, she ran against a no-name, no-fund, no-hope opponent), she just doesn't seem to have much of a base, and she surely doesn't have the appearance of a person overburdened with political allies. I may be wrong, but I think she's on her last legs. I also definitely think she doesn't see it that way.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 24, 2004 to Show Business for Ugly People | TrackBack