Group says TXU, buyers spent $17 million wooing Legislature© 2007 The Associated Press
August 22, 2007
AUSTIN - TXU Corp. and the private equity firms trying to buy the company spent about $17 million on lobbyists and advertising during the most recent session of the state Legislature, according to a report by a group that tracks political spending.
The Legislature considered but rejected bills that could have spoiled the pending $32 billion buyout of TXU.
Texans for Public Justice said TXU and the investors trying to buy the company spent nearly $11 million on advertising, $5.8 million on lobbyists, and about $180,000 to entertain lawmakers and their staffs, as reported by TXU lobbyists.
The advocacy group said TXU hired 65 lobbyists during the legislative session, and the investors trying to buy the company hired another 21 lobbyists. The highest-paid lobbyist, at $351,000, was former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, the group said.
TXU spokeswoman Lisa Singleton said the company reported employees as lobbyists even if lobbying "may only be a small part of their overall job."
Almost all of the advertising spending, $10.9 million, was reported by Clifford Angelo of Public Strategies, a lobbying and public relations firm. Angelo's only client was the investor group trying to buy TXU, which ran ads promoting the buyout.
Private investors led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and TPG Capital, formerly known as Texas Pacific Group, are nearing completion of the deal. TXU shareholders are scheduled to vote Sept. 7 on the $69.25-per-share offer.
Among the gifts cited in the advocacy group's report was up to $1,000 for San Antonio Spurs playoff tickets, which TPG partner Michael MacDougall bought for Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, and his chief of staff, J.J. Garza. Oliveira and Garza declined to comment.
The state Senate passed legislation - opposed by TXU and the buyout firms - that would have imposed new state regulation of utility takeovers and forced TXU to sell power plants. The bills failed to win final passage.
Dallas-based TXU generates power, runs a regulated electric distribution business, and sells electricity to residents and businesses.