5/09/2007

TRANSPORTATION CHAIR’S MISTRESS LANDS MULTI MILLION DOLLAR TOLL ROAD CONTRACTS.


THE MOST WANTED LOBBYIST IN THE STATE OF TEXAS HAS UNIQUE INFLUENCE WITH THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION CHAIR MIKE KRUSEE.

For years, the married republican State Rep. Mike Krusee, the chair of the House Transportation committee, and lobbyist Melinda Wheatley’s have had an intimate relationship.

A reliable inside source confirms today that Krusee and Wheatley are still “an item” and that Wheatley is now lobbying at one of Austin's most influential lobby firms, HillCo Partners, under the guise of a “public relations specialist” (so she can try and side-step filing more legally required lobbyist reports).

According to reports, HillCo’s J. McCartt, a former aide to Gov. Perry, has paid for many of Krusee’s travel bills. McCartt’s clients included TTC contractor Fluor Corp., Texas toll road investor Goldman Sachs (who plays all angles of tolling and selling our freeways) and the scandalous PBS&J—an engineering firm that has worked on several Texas toll road projects. McCartt flew Krusee to Washington in 2005 to address a conference on public-private partnerships. 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.

About ten (10) months ago, I filed a formal “sworn complaint” with the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) on Melinda Wheatley’s failure to file legally required lobbying reports for many months and years.

I fully expected Wheatley to pay off her chronically delinquent TEC fines soon after I filed the complaint. But she did not.

KRUSEE'S MISTRESS WHEATLEY IS THE MOST WANTED LOBBYIST IN TEXAS TODAY!

Shockingly, after 10 months, the brazen Wheatley has NOT paid any of the past delinquent fines with the TEC. Not only that, but according to the TEC’s own website, she is the most wanted lobbyist in the state of Texas today! Maybe that should not be a surprise.

AG’S OFFICE SUED WHEATLEY. WHEATLEY REFUSES TO PAY DEFAULT JUDGMENT AFTER 7 YEARS.

In 1999, the Attorney General’s office sued Melinda Wheatley for failing to pay yet another TEC delinquent account from the 1990’s. The Bankruptcy and Collections division of the AG’s office won a Travis County Court judgment that includes attorney’s fees and court costs. Wheatley has refused to pay the default judgment as well as the 10% annual interest that continues to mount each year. The AG’s office tells me a personal lien is also in place but Wheatley has not reported any ownership of property in the past seven years.

The formal complaint I filed 10 months ago was finally presented to the TEC on April 13th, 2007. The complaint has yet to be resolved or dismissed and a TEC attorney says the hearing could take place soon.

HISTORY OF KRUSEE AND WHEATLEY

Melinda Wheatley and Rep. Mike Krusee began working together on education issues in the late 90’s. In 2003 Krusee became the Chair of the House Transportation Committee after former chair Joe Pickett refused to go along with the unaccountable transportation legislation Gov. Perry wanted pushed. That same year, records show Wheatley began to lobby on Transportation issues.

Over the years, the Wheatley (12/6/1967) has kept many of the details of who she works for, and how much she gets paid, a secret.

WHEATLEY’S UNIQUE INFLUENCE WITH KRUSEE EQUALS MULTI MILLION DOLLAR CONTRACTS FOR HER TOLL ROAD CLIENTS.

Limited state records show Wheatley earned between $70k and $150k in the first two months 2005. Wheatley listed TransCore, Texas Council of Engineering Companies, Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas and City of Austin as her transportation clients.

TransCore, one of Wheatley’s many transportation clients received a multimillion dollar contract with TxDOT in Sept. 2005. The contract for eGo Plus RFID tags, branded locally as TxTag, is for 2 million tags over two years.

Another transportation client of Wheatley, the Texas Council of Engineering Companies (TCEC) included URS, HNTB, PBS&J & Carter & Burgess, Inc. All of which have received numerous multimillion dollar toll contracts.

WHEATLEY GETS NO BID CONTRACT FROM TOLL AUTHORITY

Comptroller Strayhorn’s investigative report on the freeway tolling authority shows Wheatley’s Informative Efforts, LLC, now defunct, was given a NO BID contract (see app. #5) for freeway toll road work. It was Mike Krusee’s legislation that created the freeway tolling authority.

Wheatley ignored Texas law and additional conflicts of interests when she failed to list J.P. Morgan as one of her clients in 2004. The Comptroller’s Report states:
“Informative Efforts: The principals of this public relations firm are Cathy Howell and Melinda Wheatley, who are subcontractors for Nancy Ledbetter Associates, which in turn contracts with HNTB. Their relationship with the transportation industry may represent a potential conflict of interest. Informative Efforts had a consulting arrangement with JP Morgan Securities Inc., a CTRMA contractor, and was paid a retainer fee of $7,000 per month plus expenses. The Austin office of JP Morgan Securities indicated that Informative Efforts performed lobbying work and that it was a short-term contract terminated around March 2004. Melinda Wheatley was Informative Efforts’ primary contact with JP Morgan Securities. Wheatley was listed on the 2004 Texas Ethics Commission lobby list for only one client, TransCore, a sponsor of Team Texas. This company provides services and products that enable toll authorities to manage transactions using toll tags. As such, TransCore is a potential CTRMA contractor.”
How has J.P. Morgan been fairing in Krusee’s Toll Road Deals?

In 2005 the CTRMA invested $284 million in a J.P. Morgan Money Market. J.P. Morgan Securities is also part of the Cintra Trans Texas Corridor Team.

Up to $1 billion dollars of TxDOT Fund 6 bonds is controlled by J.P. Morgan Securities, which acts as the senior manager for the initial issuance. Fund 6 revenue bonds are backed by state highway revenues and anticipated federal transportation appropriations.

By refusing to file lobbyist reports, what are Wheatley (and Krusee) hiding?

What kind of partnership does Melinda Wheatley have with Mike Krusee?

Should Mike Krusee and Melinda Wheatley be investigated by the District Attorney?

Should the press ignore the fact that the House Transportation Chair’s mistress, the most wanted lobbyist in the State of Texas, has landed multi-million dollar contracts?

UPDATE AS OF 5/16/07....

TOLL ROAD LOBBY THREATENS TEXAS BLOGGER WITH LAWSUIT


In a response to a Muckraker blog article I published on 5/9/07 (see below), Hillco Partners, one of the most powerful lobby firms in Texas sent a letter to threaten me with a lawsuit. I see this threat letter as a deliberate attempt to squelch my freedom of speech by HillCo, who are connected with Rep. Mike Krusee, Gov. Rick Perry and other toll road profiteers PBS&J, Goldman Sachs and Fluor.

HILLCO PARTNERS LAWSUIT THREAT LETTER
Download and read the threat letter by clicking orange headline.

The censorship letter refers to the blog article called “TRANSPORTATION CHAIR’S MISTRESS LANDS MULTI MILLION DOLLAR TOLL ROAD CONTRACTS” (see below). It’s about Melinda Wheatley, the most wanted lobbyist in the state of Texas and her unique influence with married State Rep. Mike Krusee.

Interestingly, the HillCo Partners letter targets only one paragraph of the blog article:
“A reliable inside source confirms today that Krusee and Wheatley are still “an item” and that Wheatley is now lobbying at one of Austin's most influential lobby firms, HillCo Partners, under the guise of a “public relations specialist” (so she can try and sidestep filing more legally required lobbyist reports).”
The HillCo letter, from Attorney J. Hapton Skelton of the Law offices of Skelton and Moody, says:
“This statement is false in every respect.”
After we exchanged emails, I now wonder if HillCo is suggesting that my reliable source didn’t give me such information. Or, perhaps HillCo thinks my contact of two years is just an imaginary friend?

Since I received the original threat letter, I spoke with my contact again to confirm. My inside source tells me that she was told first hand that Wheatley did “work for HillCo”. Perhaps that could mean HillCo Partners, or a sister company called HillCo Media. I don’t know.

I don’t know anything more about Wheatley working with or not working with either HillCo company. What I do know is that my source has proven to be reliable - time after time.

My source also told me that they would not be surprised if Krusee and/or Wheatley complained to HillCo Partners to do something to shut me up, perhaps send a letter from an attorney.

The lawsuit threat letter does NOT deny anything else in the article. It does not deny that HillCo Partner’s J. McCartt has paid for many of Krusee’s travel bills. Nor does the letter deny that McCartt’s clients included TTC contractor Fluor Corp., Texas toll road investor Goldman Sachs (who plays all angles of tolling and selling our freeways) and the scandalous PBS&J, an engineering firm that has worked on several Texas toll road projects.

MORE ABOUT HILLCO

Aside from the numerous connections I lay out in the original article (see below) HillCo’s J. McCartt was the treasurer of a the political action committee that pushed for an amendment to finance highway construction through the Gov. Perry’s Texas Mobility Fund in 2001. One of the first pieces of the puzzle to steal and toll our freeways.

A Texas Observer report says this of HillCo Partner’s power:
...HillCo Partners stands apart. It has an influence and reach—stretching from the statehouse to the state Supreme Court—that almost gives it the status of a shadow government.
THREAT LETTERS TO CENSOR BLOGGERS

Special interests have been known to send threat letters to bloggers to squelch our free speech.

It’s happened to me twice in two years. State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (whose unpopular freeway toll vote came the morning after her sisters contract was signed with the tolling authority) and Everett Owen (a “No Bid” Contractor with the tolling authority) both threatened to sue as a way to shut me up. Both times, my attorney told me they were both full of shit, that they were trying to shut me up. I called their bluff, and no lawsuits were filed.

Stay tuned.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hasn't paid a judgment for 7 years? And so who is preventing her from being jailed? Any other regular citizen would be in jail by now or having their pay garnished. Another reason to get out of this corrupt state.

Amy said...

Just more proof that the whole political arena is self serving and don't care one bit about the public. Too bad we can't get rid of everybody, from the Lobbyist to the aids to the elected officials and start over.

Sal Costello said...

ALAN SENDS AN EMAIL:

I am writing to you because I heard your organization is the best my concerns are that my son leaves out in Leander and I take the new 183a to reach the subdivision that he leaves in. I am concern on the legality of me paying 1.50 at the toll plaza and then seeing a sign less than a mile down the road saying toll roads end . when I contacted the company that built the 183a they told me its because they incurred the cost to build the access road that I use to get to the subdivision and that it will be a free access road when the new toll is completed please help any way you can.

Alan

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MY RESPONSE:

Hello Alan,

This is the best way you can help.

PLEASE send a 150 word or less Letter to the Statesman editor, this will us help us educate 10,000's of others and put political pressure on tollers (on how many ways they are screwing up Central Texas). They have plans to toll many more miles of already paid for roads in this scam.

letters@statesman.com (include your name, address and phone number so they can verify your letter)

Get daily updates on the corruption here:
http://salcostello.blogspot.com/

Thanks
Sal

Sal Costello said...

CAROL SENDS AN EMAIL:

Sal,

I talked to John Carona's office today and they have seen this but are worried that it is not verifiable/completely truthful. Why hasn't the main stream media picked up on this?

It needs to be put out there for everyone to see.

I despise Krusee, Williamson and Perry and anything that will expose these crooks for what they are would make me happy. Have you contacted the media and if so, what kind of response has it gotten?
Thank you for your good work and we all appreciate you!

Sincerely,
Carol

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Carol,

It's 100% true. As a matter of fact, their relationship has been common knowledge at the Capitol for years.

The mainstream media doesn't report this since saying he has a mistress is uncomfortable, or they don't want to ask Krusee point blank because it's embarrassing, or they don't want to take a day or two and follow Krusee to catch them both together (or find out where he works - his full time job).

Send the blog link to everyone you know! http://salcostello.blogspot.com/

Sal