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Thursday, August 22, 2002

Perry releases new ad; Sanchez campaigns in East Texas

AUSTIN (AP) - In Republican Gov. Rick Perry's latest campaign ad, he accuses opponent Tony Sanchez of being a bad businessman who is unable to lead Texas or handle its $114 billion budget.

On Wednesday, Sanchez shot back with an ad that features the Democrat on the basketball court as he challenges Perry to "stop with the games."

Perry's spot began airing statewide Tuesday night and focuses on the failing of Sanchez's Tesoro Savings and Loan, which folded in 1988 and received a $161 million federal bailout.

Sanchez, who was campaigning in Beaumont on Wednesday, has said he had no regrets about the Laredo thrift that he was chairman of. On the campaign trail, he often says he has learned from all his businesses, both the successful and unsuccessful ones.

Perry's ad accuses the bank of wasting money on condos, loans for a lobbyist and "special deals for failing Sanchez businesses."

"This ad is filled with lies, distortions and distractions," said Sanchez spokesman Mark Sanders. "Rick is lying about what happened at Tesoro 20 years ago. He's distorting Tony's business record."

Sanchez's various businesses have created more than 70,000 jobs, Sanders said.

A multimillionaire, Sanchez made his fortune through banking, oil and gas and other ventures. His family controls the thriving International Bancshares Corp., a $6.3 billion bank holding company based in Laredo.

Sanchez told The Associated Press in July that his thrift was one of 2,500 U.S. banks that went under during that time. "It wasn't mismanagement by any of these people _ not at all," he said.

In Sanchez's newest commercial he is wearing a business suit and tie while standing half-court on an outdoor basketball court.

Holding a basketball, Sanchez says, "Rick Perry's attacks on me are about as honest as this shot." Then he tosses the ball behind him without looking. It goes into the basket from the side.

"Come on Rick, stop with the games. Start telling the truth, and let's debate the issues," Sanchez says as he walks off camera.

Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan said Perry, who spent Wednesday stumping in Houston, is ready and willing to debate next week. Sanchez has said he'll do formal debates after Labor Day.

"Mr. Sanchez keeps dodging debates," Sullivan said.

Sullivan also took issue with Sanchez's claims.

"Mr. Sanchez can say that his bank's involvement in drug money laundering and wiring money to Panama and a $161 million bankruptcy are lies, but federal judges, Laredo juries and government investigators have proven them true," Sullivan said.

Perry's ads have attacked Sanchez's thrift because an estimated $25 million in suspected drug money is said to have passed through Tesoro in 1983 and 1984.

Sanchez and a number of legal experts have stated, under federal laws in effect at the time, Tesoro had no choice but to wire the money as directed even if it was suspected of being drug proceeds.

But Perry and two government lawyers involved in the Tesoro case contend that it could have turned the money over to the Internal Revenue Service.

"Tony Sanchez wants to run Texas like his businesses. But after Sanchez's bank was used to launder drug money, his bank failed," the Perry narrator says. "Taxpayers paid the $161 million bailout. Now Sanchez says he has no regrets."

Sanders said Perry "is trying to distract voters away from the failures of his own administration," including insurance troubles and "a budget shortfall that gets bigger every day."

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