Photo: Robert Morrow
On the campaign trail, 2012 presidential hopeful Rick Perry plays up his humble roots as a dryland cotton farmer from rural Texas. He rarely, if ever, mentions that he has become a pretty savvy real estate investor during his more than 25 years in office.The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that Perry’s income has soared as he has climbed the political ladder in Austin, thanks largely to a handful of lucrative real estate deals that have made him a millionaire.
When Perry was first elected to office in 1985, as a state representative from Haskell, he and his wife Anita were far from rich, reporting a total income of $45,244. To save money, the future governor shared an apartment in Austin with two other state lawmakers, while his wife worked as a nurse.
After being elected Agriculture Commissioner in 1989, however, Perry began investing his considerably higher salary in land around Austin, getting in just before the housing boom sent Sun Belt real estate values skyrocketing. By 2007, Perry was reporting an income of over $1 million.
Here are some of Perry’s more lucrative deals:
- In 1993, Perry bought 10 acres of undeveloped land that drew interest from computer magnate Michael Dell, who needed the land to connect his home to sewer lines. In 1995, Dell bought the land from Perry for $465,000, more than triple what Perry had paid for it. Perry maintains that he did not know the land was valuable to Dell when he purchased it.
- In 1996, Perry reported a $38,000 profit from selling stock in Kinetic Concepts, a medical supply company owned by conservative Christian millionaire James Leininger, a major Republican political donor in Texas. Leininger has donated at least $250,000 to Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns, and hosted a meeting this weekend to help Perry rally Christian support for his presidential bid. [The Huffington Post has a detailed outline of Leininger and Perry’s relationship here]
- In the mid-1990s, Perry also invested in MKS Consulting, a natural gas production company founded by former Texas state representative Ric Williamson, a longtime friend of Perry’s. The company profited handsomely from development of Texas’ Barnett Shale.
- In 2007, Perry sold a parcel of land in Horseshoe Bay for $1.1 million. He had purchased the lot in 2001 for $314,770.
While Perry’s wealth may not correspond to his campaign narrative, he is far from the only millionaire in the presidential race. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife Anne are worth as much as $264 million, and the Obamas reported assets up to $11 million.
The Perrys have not yet filed their 2010 tax forms, but their net worth will likely be closer to that of Michele Bachmann and her husband, who reported assets of up to $2.8 million.
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