The swirling force of Texas politics

AP Tracks Income of Perry, Hutchison

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    Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, left, and current Gov. Rick Perry are going head-to-head in the race for Texas governor in 2010.

    U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison would have to take a pay cut if she's elected governor, but her husband's income, a multimillion dollar investment portfolio and other assets have already contributed to significant family wealth.

    Hutchison's husband, Ray, a prominent Dallas bond attorney, makes a little under a half million dollars a year in combined salary and deferred compensation, records provided by her campaign show.

    The Associated Press is examining the personal wealth of major gubernatorial candidates.

    A big stake in Exxon-Mobil, valued at between $250,000 and $500,000, along with other stock holdings and equity investments, have also helped provide the family yearly dividend income of about $60,000 a year since 2001, records show.

    They're easily millionaires, reporting assets of between $2.8 million and $6.7 million in 2008, not including homes used for residential purposes, Senate records show. The Senate records give ranges of asset value, making an exact calculation impossible.

    Hutchison, the state's senior U.S. senator, is running against Gov. Rick Perry, the longest serving governor in Texas history, in an increasingly bitter Republican primary scheduled for March.

    How the gubernatorial candidates have come into big money have caused each of them to swap accusations that the wealth was dubiously obtained, though neither has been accused of any wrongdoing.

    Hutchison's camp has complained that Perry squeaked over the millionaire line thanks to real estate deals involving prominent businessmen and political figures.

    Perry aides, meanwhile, have raised questions about Ray Hutchison's compensation from Vinson & Elkins, where he has served as a bond lawyer for projects that have benefited from his wife's advocacy as a powerful force in the Washington appropriation process.

    "While typical for Washington politicians, the people of Texas deserve to hear directly from the senator how this cyclical relationship is ethical considering her husband continues to draw a half-million dollar annual salary from his firm 12 years after he supposedly retired," said Perry campaign manager Rob Johnson.

    The Hutchison campaign notes that Ray Hutchison was a go-to bond lawyer long before he married Kay Bailey. Though he retired as a partner in 1997, he remains an active Vinson & Elkins employee.

    "Ray Hutchison has not retired and he continues to be compensated for the work he performs as Texas' top bond attorney. The baseless and mean-spirited attacks on Kay Bailey Hutchison's family are the type of sleazy politics people have come to expect from Rick Perry," said Hutchison spokeswoman Jennifer Baker. "Rick Perry should act like a man, show a little class and leave Kay's family alone."

    Ray Hutchison reported $483,000 in income from Vinson & Elkins last year, records show. The figure includes both salary and part of a deferred compensation plan put in place when his own firm merged with Vinson & Elkins in 1995. He also collected $11,000 in yearly pension benefits in 2008 as a retired Vinson & Elkins employee.

    Collecting retirement and full-time salaries have helped boost the family's bottom line. Ray Hutchison collects a pension and Social Security, and the senator gets a $14,000-a-year pension as a former state elected official, giving the couple about $50,000 a year in combined retirement income.

    In recent years, Kay Bailey Hutchison, 66, has pulled in more than $200,000 in net book royalty income as the author of two best-selling books. The first, entitled "American Heroines," was published in 2004; the second, "Leading Ladies," came out in 2007.

    The Hutchisons have profited from real estate and oil and gas investments. They reported a capital gain of $129,000 in 2004 from Bailey Management, a family partnership among the senator and her two brothers, and a $52,000 profit from the sale of a small shopping center in North Texas.

    Besides their stake in Exxon-Mobil, the Hutchisons also own stock, worth up to $250,000, in both General Electric and pharmaceutical giant Merck, among others. Not all their stock trades have turned to gold. The Hutchisons sold shares in Enron, the failed Houston energy company whose spectacular collapse spawned Congressional investigations and criminal prosecutions, for a $14,000 loss in 2002.

    Kay Bailey Hutchison makes a yearly salary of $169,300 as a U.S. senator. If she's elected governor, she'll make a $150,000 a year.