BTEC Bill and his hurricane profiteering are laid out in this video. The facts don’t lie. After Hurricane Rita hit Houston Bill White, then Mayor of Houston, steered a $2 million dollar city contract to a company called BTEC, while being paid by BTEC’s majority owner.
Bill White was rewarded for steering a 2 million dollar contact to BTEC, whos majority owners Bill White was paid by, by being invited to make a $1 million private investment into BTEC that the general public could not make. This investment into BTEC quickly made Bill White a 50 percent profit.
The AP has picked up on this story
“New conflict questions for Bill White”
By Jay Root, Associated Press
August 4, 2010
Former Houston Mayor Bill White got involved in an ugly billing dispute between an area agency and a company he recommended to help the region recover from Hurricane Rita, playing a greater role in the transaction than previously acknowledged, according to documents and interviews with those involved.
White, now the Democratic nominee for Texas governor, was invited five months after the dispute was settled to invest $1 million in the privately held company. He has so far reported more than $500,000 in profits on that investment.
In an interview with The Associated Press, White’s recollection of the deal and its details was incomplete, although he remembers urging a resolution to the dispute. But he insisted his actions on behalf of Houston-based BTEC were proper and said he did not personally benefit from them.
“I was calling hundreds of different companies using a network of contacts and relationship I’ve built,” White said. “I never dictated the commercial terms or conditions.”
Allegations of insider business deals have emerged as a major theme of the 2010 governor’s race, producing some of the most heated exchanges so far between White and incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Perry. Both portray the other as corrupt: White has accused Perry of profiting from shady real estate deals with donors and lobbyists, while Perry claims White used his positions in government to line up private business deals.
At issue are the actions White took as mayor in guiding the massive relief effort that followed the September 2005 storm. White has previously said he called BTEC to suggest they pitch providing power generators to the Coastal Water Authority, an intergovernmental agency that provides water to Houston, surrounding communities and businesses. The company later won an emergency contract with the authority to provide those generators.
In June, White described that contact as simply calling a company he knew well — he had once served as a director and as chief executive of BTEC’s parent company — to help with storm recovery. He said he let the company and the Coastal Water Authority, whose seven-member board includes four seats appointed by the mayor of Houston, take it from there.
“That was the end of my conversations and involvement in the case,” White said in June.
But records obtained by the AP, including board meeting records, memos and e-mails from the Coastal Water Authority, show White was later involved in a dispute over unpaid invoices filed by BTEC to the agency. The records show he discussed the issue with two top city aides and a lawyer for the authority, telling them he wanted to make sure BTEC got paid for its services. One e-mail was provided to the AP by Perry’s campaign.
The Coastal Water Authority hired BTEC for an agreed maximum of $2 million to provide large generators to keep water flowing to the heavy industry that dominates the region while work was under way to restore power to the area.
Problems plagued the operation from the outset, according to the agency’s records. Two of the six generators malfunctioned, while the four others “could not keep up with our demand,” the authority told BTEC. At sometimes testy board meetings, authority officials complained they could have bought the devices for about the same price as the temporary lease, CWA records show.
The authority eventually paid BTEC $1.6 million in January 2006, but the company wanted $424,105 more for fuel storage costs the authority claimed it didn’t owe.
In January 2006, the Coastal Water Authority sent a memo to the city’s public works department that said BTEC President Mike Boyce had “contacted the mayor” about the billing dispute. White said he doesn’t remember that, and the company says it had no direct contact with White about the invoice flap.
But BTEC Vice President Sean Daichman told the AP the company had discussed the disputed invoices with Michael Moore, White’s former chief of staff and now manager of White’s gubernatorial campaign.
The authority relied on the powerhouse Houston law firm Vinson & Elkins to represent it in the dispute. BTEC called Houston City Hall and complained it wasn’t being paid enough, authority records show. Anthony Hall, then Houston’s chief administrative officer, said in an interview that it was during that period that White told him BTEC deserved to be paid because it provided generators during a genuine crisis.
“I think the concern the mayor had was that they had helped us on an emergency basis,” Hall said. “He was concerned that whatever the dispute was, that it get resolved.”
The issue still was on City Hall’s plate on March 15, 2006, when Vinson & Elkins attorney Hank Coleman discussed the dispute in an e-mail sent to Gary Oradat, a top Coastal Water Authority engineer.
“I have spoken with Anthony Hall, who said he would warn the mayor,” the e-mail begins. Further, it says, “He (Hall) agreed with my analysis that the mayor would likely be allowed to be a witness in any litigation on this matter, which would likely tip the scales toward BTEC based on what the mayor had told both me and Anthony.”
Coleman did not respond to several messages left on a Vinson & Elkins voicemail that greeted callers with his recorded message. Company spokesman Jonathan Frels said Coleman had retired from the firm. Messages left for him by e-mail and phone were not returned.
In an interview, White was unable to recall details of what happened during the dispute five years ago, but said it was similar to other payment problems vendors claimed they were having after the hurricane.
“At some point there was some, I got some message I don’t know where . . . that there had been unpaid invoices from BTEC,” White said, adding he thought BTEC hadn’t been paid at all. He recalls urging a top public works official and Coleman, the BTEC lawyer, to resolve the matter.
The dispute eventually was settled out of court in April 2006, with BTEC getting $264,000 of the more than $424,000 it sought. Five months later, White was invited to invest the $1 million, and tax returns show he has reported more than $500,000 in earnings on the investment. BTEC said White owns about 1 percent of the company.
Asked if BTEC got any special treatment because of his association with the company, White said: “No. I hope not. I don’t expect that and the people who work with me at the city would know better than that.”