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George P. Bush reaped $129,000 from contractors at the agency he leads

Sean Collins Walsh, Julie Chang and Christian McDonald, Austin American-Statesman on

Published in News & Features

None of the contractors identified by the Statesman responded to a request for comment except attorney Pete Winstead, a frequent political donor whose firm won a $40,000 legal services contract from the land office last year. Winstead and others at his firm have donated $6,250 to Bush in a series of contributions over the years.

"We do work for a number of governmental entities and do work for the city of Austin and people like that, and we don't see political contributions and participating in elections as any kind of quid pro quo," Winstead said. "We try to support all politicians whether we have any kind of government contract with them or not."

Four lawyers for the Kemp Smith law firm, including Ken Slavin, who previously represented the land office in court, gave money to Bush in September 2017, about a year after the firm won a $925,000 contract.

Jeff Anon, chairman of Cavallo Energy, gave Bush $5,000 during his first run. Cavallo is the longtime vendor for the land office-operated Texas State Power Program, which sells electricity to local governments.

Bush -- the grandson and nephew of former presidents and the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush -- is a prodigious fundraiser, despite having faced little opposition in his first run for office in 2014. That year, Patterson ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor rather than seek re-election, and Bush had a cakewalk into the General Land Office, the oldest state agency in Texas.

This year, he faces primary challenges from Patterson, Davey Edwards and Rick Range. Miguel Suazo and Tex Morgan are running in the Democratic primary.

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(Staff writer London Gibson contributed to this report.)

(c)2018 Austin American-Statesman, Texas

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