Gov. Rick Perry once scooped up valuable tracts of land in Central Texas, and he scored big when he sold them. But new financial disclosures suggest Perry gave up much of the profits on Wall Street and no longer directly owns any land or even a house.
It’s hard to draw firm conclusions about the fresh filings at the Texas Ethics Commission (view the letter and amended filing below), a precursor to more disclosures that will be released as Perry adheres to new federal requirements. Critics say the filings reveal potential conflicts of interest, including Perry's ownership interest in a natural gas company founded by a former lawmaker and top Perry appointee.
Still, the records available to the public paint a portrait of modest wealth, and they present a stark contrast to Perry’s chief rival, Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor’s wealth has been estimated at between $190 million and $250 million, according to a recent report in the Boston Globe.
“For a guy that’s almost 62 years old, he does not appear to have built a lot of net worth. He’s got some pensions and things. He had this one time in his career where he made some money in real estate, but he appears to have lost a lot of what he did gain,” said Bob Martin, a Houston accountant who helped analyze Perry’s financial disclosures for The Texas Tribune. “Unless there’s a ringer in there as far as these investments, he is not as well off as a corporate employee who had a low six-figure salary for several years."
Perry made several profitable real estate deals while in public office in Texas, generating about $2 million in pre-tax profits, according to available public records.
But much of the proceeds went into a blind trust that Perry, while serving as Texas agriculture commissioner, formed in 1996 to shield himself against conflict-of-interest allegations. A blind trust is an investment tool designed to create a legal firewall between public service and personal business dealings.
Now that he’s running for president, Perry has revoked the blind trust and revealed for the first time some of the investments he has made. More disclosures are expected in coming weeks when Perry fills out more stringent federal forms.
What’s clear now is that some of the profits from the land deals were sunk into the stock market. And Perry reported more than a half million dollars in short-term and long-term gains on his tax returns in 2008. Perry also sold his only remaining property, a home in College Station, for a loss that did not exceed $5,000. At one point, Perry had claimed the house as his chief homestead, but he gave that up after critics said he was claiming residence in two towns. The Perry campaign said the home was sold last year.
A Tribune analysis of Perry’s disclosures, reported in broad ranges, shows that the governor's publicly traded stocks are worth between $132,000 and $340,000, based on share prices as of Tuesday. There are other investments, including municipal bonds and privately held companies, but it’s impossible to tell from the state filings precisely how much they are worth.
Blind Trust Shares Still Held by Gov. Rick Perry
|Company||# of Shares||Last Close Value (9/20/11)||Estim. Low Value||Estim. High Value|
|The Coca-Cola Company (KO)||Less than 100||$70.65||-||$7,065|
|FedEx Corporation (FDX)||Less than 100||$75.22||-||$7,522|
|Illinois Tool Works Inc. (ITW)||Less than 100||$45||-||$4,500|
|National Instruments Corporation (NATI)||Less than 100||$24.96||-||$2,496|
|Nordson Corporation (NDSN)||Less than 100||$43.16||-||$4,316|
|Novartis AG (NVS)||Less than 100||$55.38||-||$5,538|
|Pepsico, Inc. (PEP)||Less than 100||$60.39||-||$6,039|
|Procter & Gamble Co. (PG)||Less than 100||$64.08||-||$6,408|
|Schlumberger Limited (SLB)||Less than 100||$69.29||-||$6,929|
|Sigma-Aldrich Corporation (SIAL)||Less than 100||$64.4||-||$6,440|
|United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS)||Less than 100||$66.21||-||$6,621|
|W.W. Grainger, Inc. (GWW)||Less than 100||$160.47||-||$16,047|
|Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP)||100 to 499||$50.72||$5,072||$25,309.28|
|Canon Inc. (CAJ)||100 to 499||$44.07||$4,407||$21,990.93|
|Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO)||100 to 499||$16.53||$1,653||$8,248.47|
|Donaldson Company, Inc. (DCI)||100 to 499||$57.27||$5,727||$28,577.73|
|Dover Corp. (DOV)||100 to 499||$50.8||$5,080||$25,349.20|
|Ecolab Inc. (ECL)||100 to 499||$51.41||$5,141||$25,653.59|
|Emerson Electric Co. (EMR)||100 to 499||$45.55||$4,555||$22,729.45|
|Molex Inc. (MOLX)||100 to 499||$21.38||$2,138||$10,668.62|
|PACCAR Inc. (PCAR)||100 to 499||$37.16||$3,716||$18,542.84|
|Sysco Corp. (SYY)||100 to 499||$27.11||$2,711||$13,527.89|
|Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT)||100 to 499||$52.29||$5,229||$26,092.71|
|Illinois Tool Works Inc. (ITW)||100 to 499||$45||$4,500||$22,455|
|Intel Corporation (INTC)||100 to 499||$22.20||$2,220||$11,077.80|
Martin, the accountant, said the records at the Texas Ethics Commission suggest that Perry has not recovered from the 2008 stock market losses.
“Like a lot of investors, he made a lot of money in one thing and lost it another,” Martin said. “It appears, based on what we saw in the breakup of the blind trust, that he has not recovered his losses.”
Blind Trust Shares Sold by Gov. Rick Perry
|Company||# of Shares||Sold For||Value|
|Chevron Corp. (CVX)||Less than 100||Gain||Less than $5,000|
|Covidien plc (COV)||Less than 100||Gain||Less than $5,000|
|Baker Hughes Incorporated (BHI)||500 to 999||Gain||$5,000 - $9,999|
|ConocoPhillips (COP)||500 to 999||Gain||$10,000 - $24,999|
|Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. (FDP)||1,000 to 4,999||Gain||$5,000 - $9,999|
|MDU Resources Group Inc. (MDU)||1,000 to 4,999||Gain||$5,000 - $9,999|
|Apache Corp. (APA)||Less than 100||Loss||Less than $5,000|
|Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ)||100 to 499||Loss||Less than $5,000|
|Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)||100 to 499||Loss||Less than $5,000|
|General Electric Co. (GE)||500 to 999||Loss||$5,000 - $9,999|
|Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)||500 to 999||Loss||Less than $5,000|
|Multimedia Games Inc. (MGAM)||500 to 999||Loss||Less than $5,000|
Aides estimated the value of the blind trust at $896,000 in 2009, but they have declined to provide an estimate of Perry's net worth. Perry filed an extension of the federal disclosure on Sept. 8 and, under FEC rules, has to turn in his form by Oct. 31.
“The governor is going to disclose everything that is required to be disclosed,” said Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier.
The more complete federal disclosure is unlikely to muzzle his critics. Texans for Public Justice, a liberal watchdog group, released a report Tuesday about Perry's new disclosures. It highlighted, for example, Perry's ownership interest in MKS Natural Gas Company, founded by the late Ric Williamson. According to a Tribune review, MKS had lease interests worth at least $2.4 million in Hood, Parker, Palo Pinto and Wise counties.
Perry appointed Williamson, a former state representative, as chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission. Williamson, one of Perry's closest friends, died in 2007.
TPJ also noted that several companies in which Perry's blind trust invested, like Hewlett-Packard and Automatic Data Processing, had received grants from the governor's job-luring Texas Enterprise Fund.
Frazier said Perry was unaware of the investments made while he had a blind trust. Now that the blind trust has been revoked, she said, he will make decisions about any assets that present any potential for a conflict of interest.
"All of those decisions are going to be made at the appropriate time," Frazier said. "Of course, the governor wants to remain completely above reproach so that there are no conflicts of interest."