Mike Krusee and his Special-Interest Travel Agents

Rep. Mike Krusee is one of the top legislative recipients of private travel gifts, according to Texans for Public Justice (TPJ): The report called "Making Connections: State Officials and their Special-Interest Travel Agents" gives some in-depth details on how Krusee lives large on toller cash.

Governor Rick “Mr. 39%” Perry was the top recipient of private travel gifts, receiving $205,460 worth. The report states this about Mike Krusee:

House Transportation Committee Chair Mike Krusee (R-Round Rock) was another lobby favorite—especially for highway-contractor lobbyists. One lobbyist who paid Krusee’s travel bills is HillCo’s J. McCartt. His clients included Trans-Texas Corridor contractor Fluor Corp. and PBS&J—an engineering firm that has worked on several Texas toll road projects. McCartt flew Krusee to Washington in October 2005 to address a conference on public-private transportation ventures held by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. Krusee stayed at the Marriott’s Renaissance Hotel.

McCartt also flew Krusee to Las Vegas to deliver the keynote address at a PBS&J toll summit a week after the 2005 regular session ended. The following year federal prosecutors charged PBS&J’s former chief financial officer with running an embezzlement scheme to disguise the source of thousands of dollars in political contributions to U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R-Florida). Around this time the Texas Department of Transportation blacklisted the firm for suspected overcharges stemming from the scandal. Yet the North Texas Tollway Authority awarded PBS&J a five-year contract to work on a joint project with TxDOT just three months later.

Representing the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA), Locke Liddell lobbyist Brian Cassidy sent Krusee to New York City in December 2005 to attend an awards ceremony held by the Bond Buyer newspaper. The Bond Buyer gave CTRMA the Southwest region’s “Deal-of-the-Year” award for debt-financing a 12-mile stretch of toll road with $238 million in bonds. Krusee authored the 2003 legislation that authorized CTRMA to issue such bonds.
Researchers found Texas’ poor system for disclosing official travel is both overly complex and inadequate. “Sorting out who paid whom to fly where is like flying in the dark,” said Texans for Public Justice Director Craig McDonald. “Despite murky disclosure, it’s clear that some corporate-jet owners operate frequent-flier programs for our state officials.”

The report concludes that Texas’ crazy-quilt system for reporting official travel paid for by private interests is at once too lenient and too complex. It recommends reforms to provide greater transparency and better protect the public interest.

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