The Brief: Top Texas News for July 26, 2010

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

It'll likely be Gov. Rick Perry on the defense in this week's round of Your Murky Business Dealings Make You Unfit for Office.

The latest controversy in the governor's race, coming a week after the The Dallas Morning News reported on profits that challenger Bill White made from an investment in a troubled oil company, involves questions of political favoritism surrounding a real estate deal Perry closed in 2007. The report is sure to provide White, still taking hits from the Perry camp for allegedly failing to disclose said profits, with an opening to hit back in what has become an increasingly heated and personal race for the state's top post.

In a nutshell (which you might need, given the News' almost 4,000 words on the matter), the winding story goes a little something like this:

In 2001, State Sen. Troy Fraser, a Perry ally, sold a piece of land to Perry below the parcel's market value. In 2007, Perry then sold the land to Alan Moffatt above its market value. (The News hired an independent team to conduct the land appraisals.) Moffatt is a business parter of Doug Jaffe, who originally sold the land to Fraser. "Anything they do is wheeling and dealing," a source is quoted in the News saying of the Jaffe family, who has complicated ties to state politics. Perry has not disclosed any gifts he might have received, which state law requires. (Get the full story here.)

 

Perry's camp has called these deals clean, citing a bank's appraisal. The News' research team has deemed that appraisal "unsupported."

Perry told the paper last week that he has been "open and honest" with his business dealings. "So I would just have folks take a look at the record, and I think the record pretty much speaks for itself," he said.

CULLED:

  • The Texas Forensic Science Commission concluded Friday that arson investigators were guided by "flawed science" in the case of the fire that killed three child and led to the execution of their father, Cameron Todd Willingham. But the commission also concluded that it wouldn't punish the investigators, given that at the time they operated without knowledge of changing scientific standards.

"I respectfully cautioned House leadership that it would make the voter ID debacle look like child's play." — State Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, on the prospect of a fight over an Arizona-style immigration bill in next year's legislative session

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