The Texas K Street Project

Texas Comptroller Carole Strayhorn is turning off the spigot on Gov. Perry’s money hose.

Today, there’s news from Texas that Strayhorn, who’s running as an independent against Perry for governor, has halted the state’s contract with a Washington lobbying firm, Cassidy & Associates. There are a number of very interesting facts to note about this.

First off, Strayhorn’s discovered that in addition to running contracts through Texas’ office in DC (called the Office of State-Federal Relations), which we’ve known about, in 2004 Perry funneled money straight from the governor’s office to Cassidy & Associates – at a rate of over $100,000 a month.Here’s a little background: Back in 2003, Gov. Perry got the bright idea of gutting the state’s Office of State-Federal Relations (OSFR) and replacing most of the staff with outside lobbyists. As I reported back in January, Perry snuck the whole arrangement past everybody, even the Republicans in the state legislature. The contracts, which started in 2003, will run to a combined $1.2 million by August of next year. As we’ve said before, the arrangement stinks of machine politics, a naked effort to exploit taxpayer money for the Republican party.

The contracts went to firms that were firmly tied in to the Republican machine. The first award went to former DeLay aide Drew Maloney of the Federalist Group (and all Republican firm). And Todd Boulanger of Cassidy & Associates, formerly of Team Abramoff, signed up in late 2004.

Here’s what’s new: according to lobbying disclosure records, Boulanger’s contract began in January of 2005. But Strayhorn is saying that Perry’s office – quite apart from this other deal – hired Cassidy for three months, June through August, of 2004. The firm was paid a whopping $302,363, about $100,000 a month, which is far more than the $15,000.month that Cassidy later signed up for. Cassidy’s contract with the OSFR will run to $330,000 total by August of ’07 and that’s for two and a half years of work.

Like I said, very interesting.

Another thing that I absolutely must note, but what it means, I don’t know. After Jack Abramoff was run out of Greenberg Traurig in March of 2004, he went to Cassidy & Associates to work as a “consultant.” He was there until July of that year, which means that he was still there for at least part of the time of Perry’s whopping contract there.

And finally, Strayhorn has halted the contract with Cassidy, but Drew Maloney of the Federalist Group is still on the payroll. And Maloney’s the one who seemed to work the hardest to launder his fees from the contract back into the Republican party.

More soon.