THE BIG CONVERSATION:
Go ahead and quit while you're behind, Gov. Rick Perry is telling challenger Bill White for the second time.
In another display of the campaign's increasingly vicious back-and-forth, Perry on Wednesday again called on White to drop out of the governor's race — he did so the first time in June — over new questions that surfaced in an Associated Press report on the former Houston mayor's dealings with a company hired to provide Hurricane Rita relief assistance.
In June, White took heat from the Perry camp for allegedly profiteering from the city of Houston's work with BTEC Turbines, to which White had financial ties but none, White said, while the company was receiving taxpayer money. (He sat on BTEC's board before his time as mayor and later invested $1 million in the company a year after Rita efforts were complete.)
But Wednesday's AP story reported that White — who said in June that his dealings with BTEC during the timeframe in question involved nothing more than contacting the company to help with recovery — stepped into a dispute over unpaid invoices to BTEC. White, according to the AP, told city aides and a lawyer with a city agency that he wanted to see BTEC paid for its services. As the story notes, "In an interview with The Associated Press, White's recollection of the deal and its details was incomplete, although he remembers urging a resolution to the dispute."
Perry responded in a statement, saying that White has offered "contradictory explanations" of his dealings with BTEC. "Because Bill White has failed to come clean with the people of Texas, I am again calling upon him to drop out of the governor’s race and to apologize to the people of Houston and our state for his unethical actions and for profiteering from a natural disaster while mayor of Houston," Perry said.
White spokeswoman Katy Bacon defended White in a statement, shooting back at the governor over his own recently revealed controversial business dealings: "Bill White called on dozens of companies during the crisis of the hurricanes, and later made dozens of phone calls to ensure those who'd been called on were paid for services provided. No less, no more. Looks like Perry's campaign is pushing old news in an attempt to distract from his land deal scandal and the fact that he's on vacation in California ignoring the $18 billion budget deficit."
- The Trib's Brandi Grissom has a preview of today's hearing of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, where lawmakers will push Sheriff Adrian Garcia on overcrowding in Harris County jails.
- The U.S. Senate on Wednesday moved to pass a jobs bill that some are saying could cost Texas $800 million in federal money for its schools.
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