DALLAS — Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday that a campaign donor who went around the typical vetting process but still landed a multimillion-dollar grant from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund is a close, personal friend -- as many Texans are.
After a Dallas Regional Chamber luncheon, Perry was questioned about a Dallas Morning News report that noted how Convergen Lifesciences, founded by David Nance, landed a $4.5 million award without the approval of a regional screening board. Nance has donated about $80,000 to Perry in the past decade.
"They went through the process," Perry said. "There's a lot of eyes that look at those projects. The idea there's some hard, fast, you-can-only-make-it-past-go rule structure isn't right."
The Morning News reported that Convergen appealed to a state board after not getting approval from the regional screening board. The state board approved his application, clearing the way for the grant.
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The technology fund, created in 2005 by the Legislature and overseen by the governor's office, invests public money in startup companies with potential. The fund has given out nearly $175 million to more than 100 companies.
In a statement, Perry's Democratic challenger, former Houston Mayor Bill White, said: "Rick Perry uses the governor's office to benefit his friends, his contributors and himself. The only way to end Perry's abuses is to elect a new governor. In the meantime, the appropriate authorities need to investigate the corruption in the governor's office right away."
Perry said the grant went to a company with a great idea that "may save lots of lives through the world."
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