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Perry appropriates Emerging Tech funds on his own

Procedures? Advisory boards? Who needs ’em?

Gov. Rick Perry approved a $4.5 million award from the state’s technology fund to a company founded by a major campaign donor despite the company’s failure to win the endorsement of a regional screening board, The Dallas Morning News has learned.

The money was awarded in August to Convergen Lifesciences Inc., founded by Perry contributor David G. Nance. Convergen was allowed to bypass a key part of the Texas Emerging Technology Fund’s extensive process for vetting applications, and to proceed for approval to a statewide advisory board appointed by Perry.

A spokeswoman for Perry said Tuesday that the money was properly awarded to Convergen because the law establishing the tech fund allows applicants to appeal decisions by regional reviewers.

However, the law makes no mention of such appeals.

The chairman of the regional board in Houston, one of the state’s largest, told The News he had never heard of an appeals process. Walter Ulrich, also a former member of the tech fund’s statewide advisory committee, said approval by regional boards is mandatory.

“It cannot go to the state without our board’s approval,” he said. “I’ve never seen that happen.”

Walt Trybula, a nanotechnology expert at Texas State University who reviews tech fund applications for the Austin regional board, said the ability to appeal would undermine the process.

“If you’ve got a way to go around a review committee,” he said, “why do you have a review committee?”

And the chairman of the state House committee that oversees the tech fund said the “extraordinary” process that awarded the money to Nance’s firm shows that reforms are needed. “This is the most troubling case that I’ve seen come through” on the fund, said Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin.

Perry rewards his cronies. It’s what he does. Give him access to money, and he’ll find a way to steer it to his buddies. Procedures and oversight are no impediments. The only remedy is at the ballot box. See here and here for some background, and see BOR, EoW, and Juanita for more.

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