Tech fund Texas Gov. Perry's office oversees gives $4.5 million grant to friend's company

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramOctober 14, 2010 

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.

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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