The Trump Organization and the president’s children have made profiting from his office such standard operating procedure, that the media barely notice when one of his cabinet secretary’s family does something just slightly less scandalous.
But the fact that Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s son launched a new fund last week for wealthy but undisclosed investors to take stakes in oil and gas drilling projects should be raising all kinds of alarm bells. Griffin Perry is a co-founder and managing director of Grey Rock Energy Partners. One of his focus areas is “investor relations.”
On April 19, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published Grey Rock’s new regulatory filing for Energy Fund III-B (and III-A) — the company’s first funds launched since Griffin’s father became Trump’s Secretary of Energy. Griffin Perry signed the filings as the funds’ manager and ultimate general partner.
Red flags should be flying. This kind of investment fund does not have to disclose to the SEC either the names of the wealthy investors or how much they are investing. Government audits are rare and not made public. This makes “possible conflicts of interest nearly impossible to spot,” as McClatchy revealed Tuesday.
Virginia Canter, legal counsel for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told McClatchy that “Conflicts can arise from both the underlying assets being managed by Grey Rock and the investors in Grey Rock.”
Rick Perry had large stakes in his son’s previous Grey Rock funds, but upon becoming Energy Secretary, he sold them off to unnamed investors for between $200,000 and $500,000.
Back in 2007 when he was Governor of Texas, Perry and his then 23-year-old son both faced accusations of conflict of interest over the Governor’s proposed sale of the Texas Lottery. In February of that year, the Houston Chronicle reported that Griffin Perry “had secured a job at UBS, the investment banking firm that the governor has consulted on the lottery proposal.”
UBS stood to make some $100 million if it brokered the sale — and its vice chairman had a PAC that once gave $610,000 to Perry’s campaign .
The potential conflicts of interest raised by Griffin Perry’s new funds may be pretty small stuff compared to what Trump’s sons and son-in-law have been doing.
As ThinkProgress has reported, the White House and the Trump Organization have effectively “merged,” and “The president is making millions and no one knows where the money is coming from.” Meanwhile, earlier this month, Jared Kushner got a miraculous $1.2 billion bailout of his failing investment in 666 Fifth Avenue.
But just because Trump and his family appear to redefine the terms “kleptocracy” and “profiteering” doesn’t mean the media should ignore what the Perry family is doing. It would be a major potential scandal in any other administration.