Tolls, tolls, tolls – former Perry aide/lobbyist appointed to head Texas Transportation Commission

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Money In Politics, Road Issues, Transportation at 12:39 pm by wcnews

Via Ben Wear at the AAS, Former Perry aide to lead TxDOT.

An energy company lobbyist and former top aide to Gov. Rick Perry was chosen Thursday to lead the 12,000-employee Texas Department of Transportation and will be paid at least $100,000 more annually than the career engineer he succeeds.

The Texas Transportation Commission, after a short, closed-door session, approved the appointment of Phil Wilson as the agency’s executive director on a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Ned Holmes of Houston, out of the country traveling on business, missed the vote.

The commission authorized paying Wilson, 43 , at least $292,500. TxDOT’s just-retired executive director, Amadeo Saenz, was paid $192,000.

The commission also voted to petition the Legislative Budget Board and the governor’s office to exceed that statutory maximum salary. Commission Chairwoman Deirdre Delisi said moments after the closed-door meeting that she didn’t know how much the commission will ask for in additional salary.


Wilson is registered with the Texas Ethics Commission as a lobbyist with Luminant and its parent company, Energy Future Holdings Corp . The filing shows expected 2011 compensation of less than $10,000 from Energy Future Holdings and $50,000 to $99,000 from Luminant.


After more than a decade as an aide to Republican U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, Wilson held various jobs in Perry’s office, beginning in 2002 as director of communications. He was later deputy chief of staff under former Chief of Staff Mike Toomey and Delisi. In addition, Wilson was Perry’s designee to the Texas Enterprise Fund and Emerging Technology Fund, gubernatorial grant programs designed to bring new businesses to Texas. He also led the governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism.

And as TollRoadNews points a person with Wilson’s “experience” makes sense, Texas Gov Perry headed for more PPPs with close associate Phil Wilson new head of TxDOT.

Gov Rick Perry seems to be laying the ground for stepping up tollroad concessioning or PPPs in Texas. Today the state’s Transportation Commission – a body which generally does the Governor’s bidding – announced selection of a longtime Perry political confidante and associate Phil Wilson as the new executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation. That position has normally been filled by a transportation professional.

Wilson, aged 44, comes immediately from head of public affairs at a large electric generation company Luminant.


Wilson himself is quoted: “I am honored to be selected as the next executive director of TxDOT. This is an agency with a rich history in successfully building for our future with dedicated employees. I look forward to working with the agency, Commission, Legislature and local communities on the most efficient and effective ways to build infrastructure for Texas.”

That last sentence looks like a proposal to enlist investors and private enterprise more heavily in transportation in the state – to do more tollroads with public-private partnerships or concessions (‘comprehensive development agreements’ (CDAs) is the favored Texas term.) [Emphasis added]

Just more of the same for this crew. Privatizing government services just winds up costing us all more in the long run. ┬áThere’s a much simpler, cheap, and easy way to fund transportation.

Further Reading:
More on the record of Perry’s former aides, “Two top Perry aides gave false testimony under oath in campaign case”.

1 Comment »

  1. Eye on Williamson » Crony in, crony out at TxDOT said,

    October 11, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    […] to Gov. Rick Perry was chosen as the new Executive Director of the Texas Transportation Commission, Tolls, tolls, tolls – former Perry aide/lobbyist appointed to head Texas Transportation Commis…. With a Perry crony now on the commission, it created an opportunity for the crony currently […]

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