Jim Geraghty asks a piercing question today: If Rick Perry is as dumb as his detractors say, how’d he get rich?
Wait a minute, you may say: I thought Perry spent his career in politics? Discharged from the Air Force in 1977 aged 27, he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives seven years later, in 1984. At that time, the Perry family reported income of $45,000, largely from Mrs. Perry’s work as a nurse.
Rick Perry served in the legislature until elected Agriculture Commissioner in 1990. He climbed the ladder to Lt. Governor in 1998, then ascended in the governorship after George W. Bush was elected president in 2000.
Now it’s 2011, and Perry reports a net worth of $2.8 million. How’d he do it?
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram tells the story.
Perry made his money in real estate through deals like this:
Back in 1993, there was a piece of ground that computer billionaire Michael Dell needed to connect his new house near Austin to city water mains. Dell neglected to appreciate the land’s importance. But Perry did discern it. He bought the land for less than $120,000 – then sold it to Dell two years later for a $343,000 profit. Uncanny. True, some detractors have wondered whether the sale was entirely on the level:
Texas Democrats have repeatedly questioned the sale over the years, in part because Mike Toomey – an influential lobbyist who would later become Perry’s chief of staff – closed the deal for Perry while Perry was out of town. Perry has always maintained he didn’t know that the land would be so valuable to Dell when he purchased the property.
Perry repeated similarly shrewd investments again and again in the years ahead.
Look at this transaction from the 2000s. A Texas real estate developer sells land to a Texas state senator – the senator who happened to represent the development’s district. The state senator sold the land to Gov. Perry. Gov. Perry then sold then land – back to the real estate developer’s business partner. Perry scored a profit of $823,000. Tidy. And how remarkable that Perry and his state senator friend could see a value proposition that the two professional real estate developers overlooked.
So it goes through investments in stock, load, and energy properties. Perry just kept seeing things that other people apparently didn’t.
Even more impressive: how Perry managed to find the time. There he was, governor of the second biggest state in the country, creating jobs from morning to night. Yet somehow he also was able to scour the vast landscape of Texas for under-appreciated little parcels of land with the potential to triple or quadruple in value in just a few months.
Geraghty is right. Not “dumb.” Another word, perhaps.