"Public funds should not be used to spread misleading information," said Katy Bacon, White campaign spokesperson. "Rick Perry needs to admit the truth."
The White campaign, citing Texas Department of Public Safety data, said total crime rates in the 14 Texas counties bordering Mexico dropped 3.1 percent between 2005 and 2008. And the total crime rate in unincorporated border areas rose 3.9 percent, while the rate of violent crime fell 2.4 percent.
Those numbers line up with an independent investigation by The Texas Tribune last year into Perry's border crime drop claims. We looked at uniform crime data from DPS from 2005 through 2008 and found that crime rates in 20 border counties increased by about 2 percent on average from 2005 through 2008.
Perry has cited the 65 percent crime drop number in news releases, commercials and speeches about the border. He says state operations, financed with about $200 million since 2006, led to safety improvements on the border. His campaign Web site says: "Starting in June 2006, state-funded operations have committed resources to strategic areas, resulting in an average of 65 percent reduction of all crime, including rape, murder, human trafficking and narcotics smuggling in our border communities." And in his 2009 State of the State address, Perry said, "Crime has also fallen as much as 65 percent in areas that smuggling cartels previously treated as their personal playground."
Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner defended that number today. He said Perry has not claimed a 65 percent drop along the entire border. Instead, he said, Perry's claim refers to temporary crime drops in discreet areas during so-called "border surge" operations, like Operation Border Star and Operation Linebacker. Miner said White has failed to come up with his own plan to secure the border. "What is Bill White’s plan to secure the border?" Miner asked. "What are Bill White’s ideas?"