Sunday, July 28, 2013

Attorney General Abbott: Asleep at the Wheel at Cancer Institute

As the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) tangled scandal slowly unwinds, I've often wondered why the Texas state leaders, the governor, lt. governor, attorney general and even legislators somehow were able to throw stones and yet now suffer broken windows in their glass houses. How can it be that they created the cancer institute and management structure governing its expenditure of $3 BILLION paid for by Texas taxpayers and haven't yet taken responsibility for huge governing mistakes, loss of financial accountability and manipulation of public monies for private profit.

Today's Chronicle (subscriber edition only, I presume) relies on the cracking foundation of the Texas GOP leadership to surface some of the key problems of the Texas government. Like marbled fat in a prime Texas T-bone steak, the corruption of Rick Perry, Greg Abbott and others have turned state programs into ATMs for their contributors as they, looked the other way, in order to claim deny knowledge. Their reply, Oops!

Reporters Eric Berger and Todd Ackerman reported in part:
In the more than four years he served on the state cancer agency's governing board, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott exercised no oversight as the agency made misstep after misstep in awarding tens of millions of dollars to commercial interests.
The state's top lawyer and watchdog instead appointed one of his deputies, who missed about a third of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Oversight Committee meetings, and, by all accounts, was not much of a presence in the agency's questionable decision-making.
"It turns out that Abbott sitting on the oversight board was a green light rather than a caution sign," wrote Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project, a Democratic political action committee. "Businesses backed by Abbott contributors - many of whom are partisan Republicans - have received large grants and contracts from CPRIT without fear of any oversight at all."
The attorney general's minimalist scrutiny of the cancer institute did not draw much attention when the Legislature lit into the agency during the regular session, but now that he is running for governor it is becoming a significant campaign issue.
"It is surprising to me that someone who is the attorney general would not attend board meetings of a fund that involves $3 billion in taxpayer dollars," said Tom Pauken, who is vying with Abbott for the nomination for governor in next spring's Republican primary.
Clearly, Abbott, as Texas Attorney General and official member of the CPRIT Oversight Committee, should've been engaged, watching closely for legal and ethical issues, but instead he was busy in politically motivated attacks on Texas women and their rights and the EPA for trying to protect Texas environment. Follow the story about candidate for governor Greg Abbott and how he failed the taxpayers of Texas as he paid back his political contributors.

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