Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his family have made presidential campaign trips aboard a jet owned by a wealthy contributor who is under investigation for possible securities fraud by Texas regulators and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Perry, who has emerged in just weeks as the new frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, flew last weekend aboard Brian D. Pardo's Cessna Citation X jet from a remote Texas airport to various campaign events in Iowa, according to a Perry campaign aide and flight records obtained via Flightwise.com.
Records showed that Pardo's plane also flew from Texas to Charleston, S.C., on Aug. 13, the day Perry announced his bid for the presidency there.
Perry's campaign said the plane carried the governor's relatives to the campaign kickoff.
Pardo, chief executive of Life Partners Holdings Inc. of Waco, Texas, last year donated $50,000 to Perry's Texas campaign fund. Life Partners is a major player in the controversial "life settlement" business, selling retail investors the right to collect on strangers' life-insurance policies.
Texas regulators filed suit against Pardo and his company at the end of July in state court in Travis County, seeking to force them to comply with subpoenas issued amid an investigation of Life Partners.
According to a statement from the securities regulators, the probe centers in part on suspected "fraudulent practices" in connection with the company's sale of its life-insurance investments.
Mark Miner, a spokesman for Perry, declined to say how Pardo's plane came to be used by Perry but said "it was a plane we chose to use" and the owner was "paid in full in accordance with federal election laws."
Miner said he believed the governor knows Pardo but would not say what relationship, if any, the two have. Pardo, in an email, confirmed the governor used his plane twice and said he had been reimbursed.