The Economic Development Committee of the Texas state Senate voted on Wednesday to approve an audit of the Texas Enterprise Fund. According to the AP, the bill, which was sponsored by Democratic Senator Wendy Davis, seeks to require that the fund be fully audited no later than January, 2015.
The call for an audit of the Texas Enterprise Fund has recently increased among political and media circles in Texas, following a scathing news release from Texans For Public Justice, an Austin-based governmental watchdog group. The group has predominantly targeted the grant practices of the Fund — as well as its ties to prominent Texas GOP political figures, such as Governor Rick Perry, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, and House Speaker Joe Straus — claiming that the $333 million of the $440 million spent by the Fund prior to the beginning of this year was given to companies and start-ups in Texas that had contributed to Gov. Rick Perry’s political campaigns or the Republican Governor’s Association.
Moreover, Texans For Public Justice have also claimed in a report from three years ago that many of the companies that that received money from the Texas Enterprise Fund failed to meet job-creation promises — a major component of the Texas Enterprise Fund’s mission.
There have been efforts on the Republican side of this scandal as well, who have pushed back against Texans For Public Justice’s campaign, characterizing it as a highly partisan effort to smear Governor Perry and the GOP. The new Senate-approved audit would seek to obtain definitive answers on whether or not the Fund was in any way compromised by a conflict of interest with Perry, Dewhurt, and Straus.
Together with the ongoing CPRIT scandal, which also involves missteps in ensuring that the cancer research-funding organization would avoid cronyism and conflicts of interest, the Texas Enterprise Fund scandal promises to embroil the Governor’s office in another complex and potentially damaging public investigation.