December 29, 2004
Former Cintra lobbyist now working for Perry

Remember the Trans Texas Corridor? Turns out that until three months ago, the guy who is now Governor Perry's legislative director worked for the firm that won the first construction bid.

As a government affairs consultant for Cintra, Dan Shelley was to be paid if the road deal went through, a spokesman for the governor said. But Mr. Shelley agreed to give up all rights to that money an amount the governor's office could not detail when he joined Mr. Perry's staff as legislative director.

The spokesman, Robert Black, said Mr. Shelley was never paid any money by Cintra. After joining the governor's office, he said, Mr. Shelley had no contact about the project with Cintra or the Texas Transportation Commission, the Perry-appointed board that picked the company.

"The governor's office had no influence at all over who won the contract for the Trans-Texas Corridor," Mr. Black said.

Mr. Perry has made the Trans-Texas Corridor, a network of tollways and rail lines across the state projected to cost $175 billion, the centerpiece of his transportation policy. An opponent of the plan said Mr. Shelley's previous employment for Cintra added to questions about the project.

"From the very beginning, this was going to be a railroaded project," said Corridor Watch founder David Stall. His group opposes the governor's proposal and wants to ensure that the development process is open to public input. "The governor had an agenda. It's all predetermined."

I've been browsing the Corridor Watch web site. Not the best design I've ever seen, but a lot of useful info.

Mr. Shelley, a lobbyist at the time, began consulting for the company in December 2003, roughly three months after Cintra was named to a list of three possible Trans-Texas Corridor contractors, the governor's office said. When Mr. Shelley joined the governor's staff nine months later, his lobbying firm which includes his daughter and son-in-law did not take over the Cintra contract or the promised pay, Mr. Black said.

State records show Mr. Shelley a lawyer and former state legislator who serves as Mr. Perry's liaison to lawmakers and his firm were not registered with the state as lobbyists for Cintra, as required for individuals who have contact with state officials that's intended to influence government decisions.

"Dan Shelley gave advice to Cintra" about doing business in Texas, Mr. Black said. "He didn't lobby, nor did he try to influence anyone else's decisions, other than Cintra's."

Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson said Mr. Shelley approached Texas Department of Transportation officials about a year ago, seeking a meeting about his work for Cintra and possibly other Spanish companies. The visit was brief, and it was the only known business contact between Mr. Shelley and the transportation department, Mr. Williamson said.

"The visit he made to TxDOT was not in the nature of a specific project," Mr. Williamson said. "It was along the lines of, 'These guys may want to do business in Texas. Can you spend some time with them?' "

Several months later, the state hosted a tour in Dallas and other Texas cities, explaining potential projects to about 20 representatives of Spanish companies. They included several from Cintra's then-parent company, Ferrovial Agroman.

"There should be an appearance question from your point of view. But from my point of view, there is none," Mr. Williamson said. "I can guarantee you Dan Shelley didn't lobby me for anything to do with Cintra."

And I'm sure if I were to walk up to Ric Williamson and say "Hey, I know some guys who might like to do a little business in Texas, could you spend a few minutes with them", he'd be just as happy to do it for me as he was for Dan Shelley. Because there's no value in knowing the right people, you see. If anyone wants to parse the relevant state laws on the subject of lobbying and compensation and report back on it, please be my guest.

Getting back to Corridor Watch for a second, it seems that among the opponents of the Trans Texas Corridor are the Republican Party of Texas. Campaign issue, anyone?

Thanks to KF for the heads up.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 29, 2004 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

Thanks for the wonderful website. Very informative...EVERY Texas needs to read it. I've passed it onto friends.

Posted by: Fran Hargrove on March 3, 2005 11:39 AM