Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White lobbed more allegations of cronyism and corruption at incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry. On Tuesday, Mayor White launched what his campaign dubbed their “October Surprise.”
The former Houston mayor spoke on the steps of the Teacher Retirement System building. TRS is the largest pension fund in the State, valued at over 100 billion dollars.
"For years, it’s been going around town, as well as in the investment community throughout the state that there were people playing politics with the investment funds of our teachers," said White.
A memo written by a TRS whistle blower accuses the agency's chief investment officer of pressuring employees to make investment decisions that favored board members appointed by Governor Perry. The governor wasn't specifically mentioned in the memo.
The Perry campaign brushed off the allegations as old news, saying that an external investigation into the memo found that no investment laws were broken. The investigation did, however, make specific recommendations regarding the conduct of TRS board members and staff.
Political Science Professor Brian Smith at St. Edwards University says that the effectiveness of White’s charges against Perry will depend on how seriously voters take them.
"I think a lot of voters assume, if you’re in politics that long, you’re going to have a certain amount of slime attached to you. It’s the nature of the beast," said Smith.
"Perry’s campaign was never running on a campaign of ethics and good government. He’s always been running on a campaign of job creation and Texas is better off than most states."
With only two weeks left until Election Day, Smith says Mayor White may need the charges against Governor Perry to erupt into a full fledged scandal to have any chance at removing him from office.
By Ian Dille