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Lone Star Project Report

Greg Abbott vs. Texas Jobs

Abbott’s Opposition to American Merger Threatens Jobs, Illustrates Hypocrisy

Attorney General Greg Abbott’s decision to join the Obama Administration in opposing the American Airlines-US Airways merger is – on the surface – an unexpected twist coming from an AG whose favorite one-liner is: “I go into the office, I sue the federal government, and then I go home.”  Abbott has spent nearly $4 million of Texas taxpayers’ money suing the federal government and has waged 28 lawsuits against the Obama Administration (Houston Chronicle). Now he has sided with the federal government against a merger in which thousands of North Texas jobs could be lost.

What’s more, Abbott’s intervention in the merger flies in the face of his pledge just a few weeks ago to refrain from using state resources to pick winners and losers.

In the early stages of his campaign for Governor, Abbott is setting a low standard for honesty.

Abbott did not intervene when a similar merger took place involving Continental Airlines

On January 28, 2010, Laurence E. “L.E.” Simmons, President of Houston-based SCF Partners and a member of Continental Airline’s Board of Directors made a $100,000 contribution to Greg Abbott. Three months later United Airlines and Continental announced they were merging. Following approval by the Department of Justice, the merged United Continental Holdings, Inc. became the largest airline in the world (Simmons continues his tenure on United Continental Holdings’ Board of Directors). Throughout this process, Greg Abbott never registered a complaint.

Now, Abbott has moved aggressively to block the American-US Airways deal. His actions blindsided the parties involved in the merger, and observers throughout Texas are questioning his motives.  American’s general counsel, Gary Kennedy said he was “totally surprised and disappointed with the Texas AG,” and that “no concerns were voiced in advance.”

“Picking winners and losers”

Greg Abbott has a long history of rewarding or turning a blind eye to the activities of his supporters. His lack of proper oversight allowed donors to take over $42 million in grants from CPRIT through companies in which they have a financial stake. Several of Abbott’s top donors are also longtime contributors to Rick Perry who use their corporate millions and close relationships with Texas Republicans to affect public policy.

When Abbott launched his gubernatorial campaign in July, he called for an economy with a “level playing field that gets government out of the business of picking between winners and losers.” Yet Abbott’s repeated attempts to disenfranchise minority voters and his recent opposition to the American-US Airways merger suggests Greg Abbott is more than willing to use public office and taxpayer dollars to anoint winners, cast aside losers, and further his own political agenda.