Tom Hicks is a Dallas billionaire and investment banker who began raiding the University's public funds after the University refused to invest in his dental company in the early 90's. Hicks first appeared on the public scene when he donated $17,500 to Ann Richards, Texas governor at the time. He was subsequently appointed to the Board of Regents by Governor Richards in 1994.
After Ann Richards was defeated in 1994 by George W. Bush, Hicks shifted his heavy donations to Bush. Hicks gave $146,000 to Bush in both of his gubernatorial campaigns. In return for the gratitude, Bush approved legislation to form UTIMCO in 1995. Hicks had used a full-court press strategy, spending between $50,000 to $110,0001 in lobbying and using with the powerful lobbying team Vinson and Elkins, who represents several Texas business interests, to achieve this dream.
Conveniently for both men, Bush appointed Hicks as the first chair to UTIMCO, which began the tradition of tit-for-tat management and good-ol' boy favoritism that has defined the relationship between UTIMCO and Texas politics since. In 1998, Hicks would make Bush a multi-millionaire by purchasing the Texas Rangers. In addition, Hicks' company, Hicks, Muse, Tate, & Furst, Inc., is now Bush's number 4 career patron. The company is still donating to the GOP; Rick Perry has received $283,481 from Hicks Muse, with another $176,500 coming from Charles Tate [Hicks, Muse, Tate, & Furst, Inc.]. Hicks's brother Steven has also thrown in $138,516.
For several years, UTIMCO acted in secrecy under the protection of the Texas Attorney General, which facilitated the process of questionable investments in return for political favors. UTIMCO invested some $525 million in assets run by Hicks associates and other major GOP donors. After the Houston Chronicle exposed such insider dealings in a 1999 article, Tom Hicks resigned from the board.
Investments made by UTIMCO under the watch of Tom Hicks include the following, as reported by the Multinational Monitor, Texas for Public Justice, and Bushwatch.net:
- The Carlyle Group: the Group's partners include Bush Sr. and ex-Secretary of State James Baker III.
- Maverick Capital Fund: Major project of the Wyly brothers.
- Bass Brothers Enterprises: The Bass family donated $210,000 to Bush's campaign through PAC's, with $273,000 from themselves, and they invested $25 million in Bush's Harken Oil venture.
- Kohlberg Kravis Roberts: This corporate buyout firm would soon join Hicks Muse in a $1.5 billion takeover of Regal Cinemas.
- Evercore Partners: Evercore and Hicks joined forces for a $900 million television buyout.
- American Security Partners: Landed a contract with UTIMCO months after selling several radio stations to Tom Hicks.
- Wand Partners and Inverness Management: Firms run by friends of Tom Hicks, such as former frat brother Bruce Schnitzer.
Another notable company not covered by the Multinational Monitor was an investment in Capstar Broadcasting, run by R. Steven Hicks- Tom's brother. The brothers have had strong interests in national communications companies, and some deals that have been proposed (some sought after by trustbusters) have reached the billions. Clear Channel Communications/AMFM (owned by Hicks Muse with Tom Hicks as the vice-chair) is the largest chain of radio stations in the U.S. Hicks Muse also owns the second largest chain in the U.S., Chancellor Media.
Hicks is also known as the power behind the revitalization of Dr. Pepper and he gained 1,477 percent when he sold to Cadbury Schweppes in 1995.2
Hicks and Ross Perot, Jr.
Together Hicks and Ross Perot, Jr. (chairman, CEO and director of Perot Systems Corp. and son of the former presidential candidate) created the most expensive hockey and basketball arena in U.S. history. The American Airlines Center cost $420 million; $125 million of that came from Dallas's taxpayers. This was soon after the Ballpark in Arlington was constructed and partially funded from tax-payer dollars. As an added incentive for constructing new arenas, franchise owners received $10 million bonuses. Hicks did see some money of this money from building the American Airlines Center for his Dallas Starts although he did not receive it from the newly constructed ballpark that houses his Texas Rangers (it was built before he made the purchase). Hicks also has interests in minor league baseball; he just built a new stadium in Frisco, and three entrepreneurs have filed a lawsuit against him for "freezing them" out of their interests in bringing a minor league team to Frisco.
Currently, Hicks and Perot, Jr. are working together in another business venture that coincides with this new arena. Hicks's company, Hicks, Muse, Tate, & Furst, Inc., and Perot's company, Hillwood Development Corporation, have joined forces to develop the land around the arena. In the private sector, Hicks frequently combines his corporate dealings with his personal relationships. As chairman of UTIMCO, Hicks continued this practice, leading to numerous conflicts of interest. For example, UTIMCO has $988,080 invested in Perot Systems Corporation as of March 2002 and $109,309 in Electronic Data Systems Corporation (which Perot Sr. founded) as of June 2003.