Sunday, July 8, 2007

Follow the money - campaign contributions and policy

By Faith Chatham - July 8, 2007
DFW REGIONAL CONCERNED CITIZENS TRACED ZACHRY FAMILY CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS IN TEXAS and published them during the 2006 State Election Cyle. Sal Costello of The Austin Toll Party published Top Ten Toller's Contributions to Rick Perry last year on THE MUDRAKER.

As a refresher course, we're republishing them here.
January 30, 2006, Sal Costello said...
Texans For Rick Perry: Contributions by employees and PACs of ONLY the top 10 TxDOT Bidders (up to 5/05 - Total $457,500)

7/25/02 Gafford Ronald Austin Industries $1,000
1/4/04 Teufel Carol Bracewell & Patterson $25
6/3/02 Bracewell & Patterson - PAC $10,000
11/4/03 Bracewell & Patterson - PAC $10,000
12/8/04 Bracewell & Patterson - PAC $10,000
6/28/01 Bracewell & Patterson - PAC $5,000
6/28/01 Bracewell & Patterson - PAC $2,000
6/28/01 Bracewell & Patterson - PAC $1,000
10/20/04 Yerby Philip Chiang Patel & Yerby Inc. $750
12/11/02 Yerby Philip Chiang Patel & Yerby Inc. $500
11/5/03 Yerby Philip Chiang Patel & Yerby Inc. $500
6/14/02 Fluor Corporation California Pac $12,500
6/14/02 Fluor Public Affairs Committee $12,500
9/16/04 Sweet Chad Goldman Sachs & Co. $5,000
6/13/02 Sweet Chad Goldman Sachs & Co. $1,000
4/14/04 Sweet Chad Goldman Sachs & Co. $25
3/13/02 Weisman John & Anne Hunter Industries $10,000
3/13/02 Abrams Jon F J.D. Abrams L.P. $5,000
9/3/02 Abrams Jon F J.D. Abrams L.P. $5,000
11/4/04 Abrams Jace J.D. Abrams L.P. $1,000
11/4/04 Abrams Jon F J.D. Abrams L.P. $1,000
12/11/02 Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. PAC$1,000
11/5/03 Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. PAC $500
10/20/04 Pate Gerry E. Pate Engineers $1,000
12/11/02 Pate Gerry E. Pate Engineers $1,000
11/5/03 Pate Gerry E. Pate Engineers $500
12/11/04 Davis Kenneth Pate Engineers Inc. $500
2/4/04 Thuss Michael Pate Engineers Inc. $500
10/2/01 Royer James Turner Collie & Braden $5,000
10/20/04 Royer James Turner Collie & Braden $1,000
6/13/02 Vinson & Elkins Texas PAC $35,000
11/17/04 Vinson & Elkins Texas Pac $25,000
11/5/03 Vinson & Elkins Texas Pac $25,000
12/12/02 Vinson & Elkins Texas Pac $10,000
10/2/01 Vinson & Elkins Texas Pac $5,000
3/13/02 Webber Wayne W. W. Webber Inc. $2,500
3/24/04 Webber Wayne W. W. Webber Inc. $2,500
5/24/02 Pitcock James D Williams Brothers Construction $35,000
2/15/02 Pitcock James D Williams Brothers Construction $25,000
3/13/02 Pitcock James D Williams Brothers Construction $25,000
5/30/01 Pitcock James D Williams Brothers Construction $25,000
12/13/02 Pitcock James D Williams Brothers Construction $25,000
6/28/04 Pitcock James D Williams Brothers Construction $25,000
6/20/02 Pitcock Roy Williams Brothers Construction $1,500
11/3/03 Zachry H.B. Zachry Construction Company $25,000
9/19/01 Zachry H.B. Zachry Construction Company $10,000
4/6/04 Zachry H.B. Zachry Construction Company $10,000
7/7/04 Zachry H.B. Zachry Construction Company $10,000
10/7/02 Zachry H.B. Zachry Construction Company $5,000
2/27/04 Zachry H.B. Zachry Construction Company $5,000
10/1/01 Zachry John Zachry Construction Company $5,000
9/19/01 Zachry Jamse Zachry Construction Company $2,500
10/29/03 Zachry David Zachry Construction Company $2,200
11/4/03 Zachry James Zachry Construction Company $2,000
9/25/01 Green Cathy Zachry Construction Company $1,000
7/30/01 Zachry H.B. Zachry Construction Company $1,000
11/4/02 Zachry David Zachry Construction Company $1,000
9/19/01 Zachry John Zachry Construction Company $1,000
11/4/03 Zachry John Zachry Construction Company $1,000
11/14/03 Zachry David Zachry Construction Company $1,000
10/7/02 Zachry John Zachry Construction Company $1,000
11/4/03 Zachry Construction Company - PAC$2,500

DFW RCC's research on the financiers behind the Texas Democratic Party was published on Grassroots News U Can Use
By Faith Chatham - Friday, September 15, 2006

July 31, 2006 on Daily Kos we (DFW RCC bloggers - TXSHARON and FAITH CHATHAM examined the link between Zachry donations to Texas Incumbents and voting patterns). When we tabulated Zachry donations we identified the Zachry donors as:

H.B. Jr.
H.B. Zachry Construction Co.
Tower Life Insurance
Zachry PAC
The Zachry Foundation endowed Texas A&M but I don't think they give money to political candidates.
Maybe this will help.

In 2006, although support of TTC is a strong issue in the Governor and Lt. Governor's races, some of Texas's "downticket Democratic challengers" are the heavy-hitters who are driving home the TTC sword which is proving to be the defining litmus test this year in Texas.
Rick Perry received over $146,000.00 in the past 5 1/2 yaers from Zachry family members, corporations amd PAC. Lt. Governor David Dewhurst accepted $51,000.00 last year from the same donors. Dewhurst was instrumental in smoothing the journey of TTC Toll Road Privatization of Texas Highways legislation through the Senate. Independent Governor Candidate Carole Keeton Stayhorn is assulting Perry's reconrd and support of Toll Roads, and is getting lots of applause from attendees at TxDOT Public Trans Texas Corridor Hearings, yet refuses to return the $13,000.00 she acccepted from Zachry family members and related interests when she ran for her current postion of Comptroller during the last (2004) election cycle.

I haven't cross referenced the folks who are members of the Zachry pac to see how much they have given individually to candidates. When we do that, I'm sure the amount donated by Zachry related folks will go to at least a million in the past 5 1/2 years to Texas officials.
I've only concentrated on Texas rather than Federal officials.
Here's what I was looking for campaign contributions from Zachry Construction, from Zachry family members, Zachary corporations and or their PAC.

We did not identify officers of the Corporation with other surnames. When those are included, the contributions are much higher. Looking at Zachry influence in the process, it was impossible to ignore the generous contributions of Zachry to his alma mater, Texas A&M University.

Texas High Speed Rail Corporation, NASCO CORRIDOR and other non-profit (seeded by generous corporate donors) 501s became the incubator for the "vision" to retool Texas and USA transportation.

I posted this because I've been trying to trace what is the common denominator between the local governmental officials who have been showing up at TTC hearings and bringing signed letters from their city councils and county commissioners endorsing the Trans Texas Corridor "if they incorporate our regional transportation plan." . In Fort Worth we witnessed official after official stand and endorse the TTC with the stipulation that TDOT adopt their local plan. Mayor Mike Moncrief, City of Fort Worth, Kathryn Wilomon representing the City of Arlington, Glen Whitley, Tarrant County Commissioner and County Judge elect who serves as Secretary of the THSRTC were joined by repesentatives from the City of North Richland Hills and others. Citizens were appalled to hear their local elected officials endorse the TTC. There is obviously a VAST DIVIDE between where many of the local officials are and where the people are on this issue. (Note: In Tarrant County representatives for State Rep. Mark Veasey and State Rep. Lon Burnam spoke in opposition to the TTC).

So what was the vehicle(s) which brought these local governmental leaders together?
It appears that participation in local RMA's and in organizations such as the THSRTC and seminars such as the Second Annual Southern Central High Speed Rail Symposium at DFW Hyatt Regency in January 2006 {and NASCO CORRIDOR) seems to be the common meeting ground for many of the local government reps who endorsed the TTC "with the recommendation that TDOT adopt the transportation corridors of the local planners."

In Dallas, there was less unity among local leaders in endorsing the TTC than in Tarrant County.

We traced how the TTC / CDA proponents used non-profit 501s to sell their vision and push for passage of freight friendly legislation and private public partnerships in Texas infrastructure public works projects:

Texas High Speed Rail Transportation Corporation:
The website describes members as "representing some of Texas' most densely-populated and economically vibrant areas." THSRTC website states: "Our growing membership and their designated representatives include the Cities of
College Station

Also members are:
Brazos County
Dallas County
Harris County
Tarrant County
the Port of Houston Authority
American Airlines
Continental Airlines,
Scott & White Hospital

Texas Southern University and the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI located at Texas A&M) serve as significant resource agencies to THSRTC.

The Bush School of Public Affairs at Texas A & M University recently completed a major Capstone Project for the Corporation.

These players along with Kansas City Southern Railroad de Mexico (owning 100% interest in TFM -Mexico Rail), H.B. Zachry Construction Corporation and Citras (a Spanish Corporation which operates toll roads in Canada) are the major players backing the TTC. There are probably (not proven) strong ties between some of KCS RR's Mexican partners and Cintras.

Since 1992 Kansas Southern has acquired transportation corridor rights, and or rail lines, and or major contracts which gives it major control tracks spanning from both coasts of Southern Mexico through the USA to the Pacific Rim of Canada.

In January 2006 a conference (The Second Annual Southern Central High Speed Rail Symposium) was held at the Hyatt Regency DFW in Dallas. The VP of Kansas City Southern Railroad was the dinner speaker and opened the seminar with a presentation showing the milestones the KCS RR has achieved in reaching their goal: To Concentrate and coordinate investments in capacity, facilities, locomotives to capture long-haul business grown between US, Mexico & Pacific-rim markets. They labeled their slides as "KCS The NAFTA RAILROAD" .

This powerpoint presentation is available on line.

It clearly shows that the REASON FOR THE TTC is to ship goods from Mexico straight though Texas to a terminal/hub in Kansas City Mo to Canada. They include slides showing that "Kansas City Southern has now earned its new name: Kansas City Southern de Mexico."

It shows the importance of the STRAIGHT THROUGH TEXAS line. They are currently shipping through Texas but route up to Bloomington IL and the TTC route would give them a straight shot north instead of winding around. Construction of the TTC rail/toll corridor would allow KCS de Mexico to ship directly from ports in Mexico straight through Texas non-stop to a depot in Kansas City, Missouri.

The first person who alerted me that the plan was to ship through Texas to a hub in Kansas City was Hank Gilbert. He's been up to speed on the TTC for some time. He's been traveling and alerting folks that the purpose of taking all this acreage to build this corridor is not to meet the transportation needs of Texans. It's to cut back on the expenses of entities seeking to ship goods from Mexican ports through Texas to Kansas City, Mo where it will be channeled to to points along Kansas City Southern's distribution network. KCS's goal is to dominate transportation in the US, Mexico and Canada.

In Harris County, Judge Robert Eckles who presides over the Harris County Commissioner's Court is chair of the Texas High Speed Rail Transportation Corporation.

We looked at Toller's use of Academic Institutions to promote their reenginnering vision for Texas/USA Transportation:

One particular adcademic institution which was utilized by Zachry was Texas A& M.

In Tarrant, County Commissioner Glen Whitley (County Judge elect), serves as Secretary of the Texas High Speed Rail Transportation Corporation.

In Dallas, Texas Senator John Carona serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security.

From FAST FORWARD, The Monthly Newsletter for the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation, March 2006 Newletter:
In February of this year, Senator Carona was appointed Joint Chair of the Study on Transportation Financing by the 79th Legislature. "The members I have appointed are all strong leaders representing diverse parts of the state," Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst aid. "I look forward to working with each of them as we pepare for future transportation funding needs."
The committee will reveiw the state motor fuel tax, the current sources for funding rail transportation projects, adn all other financing options for all modes of transportation. The appointment will give Senator Carona the opportuntiy to influence transportation and homeland security policy throughout the state while ensuring the approach is fair, equitable, and capable of taking Texas safely and securely into the future.

Another Dallas County Leader is Commissioner Maurine Dickey:

From the same issue of Fast Forward:
Dallas County Commissioner Maurine Dickey is a pr-active voice and member of the Texas High Speed Rail Transportation Corporation."


2002: THSRTC was created and officially incorporated by Secretary of State Gwen Shea, with Harris County, College Station, Houston and the Port of Houston as its founding members. By the end of the year the Corporation alerady had one new member, the City of Killeen. IN addition, the Corporation quickly earned the support of the Garrision Commander at Fort Hood, the largest military installation in the United States.

2003: Cities and counties continued joining THSRTC.
..Following the first executive committee meeting, a letter requesting an extension of the South Central Corridor in the reauthorization of TEA-21 was signed. A few months later TxDOT Executive Director Michael Behrens submitted an application for the extension of the South Central Corridor to USDOT Secretary Norman Mineta. A second executive committee meeting took place at the 6th Annual Texas Transportation Summit in Irving. Shortly thereafter a letter was submitted to USDOT Secretary Norman Mineta requesting the selection of the Texas T-Bone as the model for high-speed rail.

2004: 2004 was a great yaer for the Texas High Speed Rial and Transportation Corporation: the Texas T-Bone received key endorsements from the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star Telegram and the U.S. House of Representatives' TEA-LU bill included the extension of the South Central Corridor. By the end of the yar the Corporation passed a resolution allowing universities to join at half the membership cost.

2005: As THSRTC and the Texas T-Bone gained recognition, several educatational institutions offered to conduct research on several high-speed rail related aspects including demographic and environmental impact studies and public policy issues. The list of resource agencies assisting THSRTC includes the George Bush School of Public Policy at A&M University, the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University and the Texas Transportation Institute. 2005 also saw the additon of several new members including Scott & White Hospital and the City of Hillsboro.

2006: 2006 has had an excellent start for THSRTC. The Corporation's Quarterly Meeting on February 17 at Hill College in Hillsboro was a tremendous success with over 50 attendees including 100% of THSRTC membership, representatives from U.S> Congressman Chet Edwards, Texas Senator Kip Averitt and Texas House Representative Jim Pitts. In addition, DFW Airport, Baylor University, HOTCOG, and many others were present. A fact finding mission to France to see the... TGV system is also in the works for Summer 2006.

The March Issue of Fast Forward lists:
CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORTERS: Senators Hutchinson and Cornyn
House Members: Brady, Burgess, Carter, Cueller, Edwards, Gonzalez, Green, Hall, Jackson Lee, Johnson, Marchant, McCaul, Neugebauer, Ortiz, Poe, Sessions
In the January 2006 Issue of Fast Forward:

Profile: United States Congressman Henry Cueller
Representing the people of the 28th Congressional District of Texas since November 2004, Congressman Cuellar is a strong supporter of transportation improvements and high-speed rial in Texas. Durng his short time in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Cuellar has already been able to secure $14 million dollars of transportation projects for his district, which goes from San Marcos all the way down to Laredo.

As a U.S. representative, Congressman Cuellar has been remarkably successful in advancing several amendments to new legislation that will protect individual property rights adn will increase security, technology and manpower at the US-Mexico, among others. He has also created a National Gang Intelligency center at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is a leader among Democrats, being the first in his party to support the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). This trade agreement will have a big economic impact on the 28th District, as millions of dollars in new trade will come through Laredo and the I-35 Corridor.

Representative Cuellar currently serves on bothe the House Budget Committee and the House Agriculture Committee.
Prior to serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Cuellar served as Secretary of State for the State of Texas and was a member of the Texas Legislature for 14 years.

The 28th Congressional District of Texas serves San Antonio, one of the largest cities.

Several articles -- some rather tongue in cheek were published last year on Grassroots News U Can Use. We expressed concerned over the lack of transparency in the TxDOT bidding process which prevented examination of potential ties between Zachry academic donations and resulting state contracts.

The QUESTION THAT WAS ASKED WAS when does the endowments influence the research outcome? Faith Chatham questioned the impact large corporate donations to academic institutions have on researchers.
By Faith Chatham - Sunday, July 31, 2006 Daily Kos

Does it? Even when you have very valid straight as an arrow procedures, if the Company who underwrites a large part of your department/university's budget -- and I think anyone who loses $10million from their department's budget would sqawk loudly enough about it to make that particular endowment qualify as a significant endowment --- when the endower is a candidate for contracts with the agency which decides who gets the contracts ---
Well I think it is important to throw out that question to University officials IN ALL UNIVERSITIES. When does the private endowments jeporadize the perception of the academic community and the general public about the whether the research is truly INDEPENDENT and UNBIASED.
I've worked on a number of research projects in my day. When you put heart and soul in a project, you want folks to take is seriously. If anyone WONDERS if it is less than INDEPENDENT of financial influence, you are putting the kiss of death on that institute. Right now TTI and Texas A&M need to step back and evaluate how things which are probably occuring independent of each other can raise eyebrows. ESPECIALLY SINCE TDoT IS CONDUCTING THEIR VETTING and NEGOTIATIONS IN THE DARK, NOT COMPLYING WITH PUBLIC MEETING LAWS.

That same day Faith Chatham pointed out:
TOO MUCH MONEY form sources who contract with TTIs major client (TxDOT) CAN BRING THE INDEPENDENCE of the research by TTI into question, even if there is nothing amiss in their research methodology or ethics. Becasue TxDOT is vetting proposals from potential vendors/private partners who are to be on the "short list" for the Trans Texas Corridor project in closed door meetings and rules have been passed exempting these records from discovery or disclosure even by court order and subpoena, there is less opportunity for the public to EXAMINE the records to see what kinds of influence has been exerted by whom (if any) to get Zachry to the top of the short list. When questions arise which cannot be answered easily by examination of the records, it hurts the innocent as well as the guilty.

TTI does a lot of things , Faith Chatham wrote on Daily Kos on July 30, 2006:
We don't know that there is anything amiss there. However, there is a rule of ETHICS in Government. We are to AVOID the APPEARANCE OF A CONFLICT OF INTEREST. This may merely be that a good thing (endowment) came at the same time that the endower got considered by TTI's major client (TDoT) for the biggest construction project in this century.
We have to have a dialogue in academic and governmental circles to see WHAT IS THE BEST WAY to protect the integrity of the research by institutions who are endowed.

Our assessment:
By Faith Chatham - Daily Kos - July 30, 2006
It appears that TTI has a role in selling the concept of multi modal transportation to members of the THSRTC. That organization has at least two officers who are County Judges in major urban centers. TTI was a major player in that organization. THSRTC is also closely linked to TxDOT. So it is interesting to see how this organization has influenced support for the TTC initiative.

In reengineering we are trained to identify the barriers, to identify the sponsors, to identify change agents, to identify stockholders. It appears that TTI and other organizations which promote rail within the governmental and cogs function in part as a reengineering lobby organization using education and symposiums to bring major players who can "buy into the intiative" and endorse and support it.

THSRTC also has strong ties to legislative leaders who can influence funding and change necessary parts of the transportation code. So influence with TxDOT is not the only way that TTI and the Bush School of Public Affairs can influence change to the advantage of A&M's generous corporate endower.

We hit our basic chord - Ethics and Conflict of Interest:
blockquote>THAT IS MORE REASON FOR EXAMINATION OF THE APPEARANCE OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST by the endowment which was accepted by the University.
The researchers don't deserve to come under any UNDESERVED CLOUD.
Right now, with the close relationship between TTI (Texas Transportation Institute), local and regional traffic planning entities who are endorsing the TTC (while most of the citizens of those communities are speaking out against it) and the relationship TTI has with the agency making the decisions about letting contributions with the major endower of the University! The point is that it is NECESSARY TO EXAMINE HOW IT LOOKS.

In ethics, we are told that it is IMPORTANT to avoid the APPEARANCE OF A CONFICT OF INTEREST. There is enough here for the APPEARANCE OF A CONFLICT OF INTEREST to do harm to the University unless the University examines it immediately and sets up guidelines to insure that the researchers remain indenpendent from influence from the endowers.

It is important that TTI not recommend a contractor to TxDOT in one way of the other. If they recommend or influence, they have violated ethical standards in this particular instance because the institution where they work benefits financially from at least one contractor who does business with TxDOT, TTI's number one client.

We pointed out:
There's more than one kind of prairie fire
1. Between elected officials and them that "brung 'em to the dance."
1. Aggie Engineers and Aggie Farmers and Ranchers
3. Historians and Legislators
4. Environmentalists and Legislators and Contractors
5. Grassroots Democrats who are looking at turn-coat money grubbing Democrats in office who are voting with big money interests on the TTX and who received donations from Zachry.
6. Grassroots Republicans who are looking at incumbent Republicans who they helped elect who are supporting TTC and who took money from toll road special interests.
7. Local governments and regional transportation planning entities who are endorsing the TTC and local voters who are mad because their officals are endorsing it without listening to the people.

We had devastating grass fires in much of this state which left thousands of acres of farm/ranch land charred. Much of rural Texas was declared a National Disaster. The TTC is the defining insulting swipe at those same peole. When it is an act of nature (or even arson which got further out of hand) it is devastating. However, the TTC is something that governmental officals are deliberately DOING to the Ranchers/Farmers/ homeowners and tax payers of Texas.

"Remember the Alamo" will be mild compared to the battle cry of "REMEMBER TTTC" before this is over.

On Texas Independence Day in March 2007, Hank Gilbert made good on his campaign promise to organize a march on the State Capitol.

TTC and CDAs are the same issue. Thousands of Texans showed up and testified at the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Transportation TTC Hearing. They brought their tractors, livestock, families and neighbors and rallied on the State Capitol during this two day march on the State Capitol. They spoke out against the TTC land grab and against mandatory animal computer chip ID (NAIS).

Now the battle front has moved from Austin to local and regional governments. Citizens across Texas are monitoring RTC meetings, sitting in on rail relocation meetings at Council of Governments, phoning local elected officials and urging them to be proactive in protecting citizens from land grabs for private development and awarding highway contracts which will cost the citizens much more to use the infrastructure than is necessary.

Diligency, transparency, ethics, and watching who takes the money and how they repay the donors is an ongoing battle. We cannot afford to sleep. Citizens must be informed, weigh the sources of information, and act.

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