Gov. Rick Perry's team pushed back Sunday on a Washington Post story charging that a racial epithet was displayed for decades on a hunting property leased by the Texas governor's family.
Perry's team says that the governor's father Ray painted over the name -- a holdover from the area's long cowboy culture -- in the early 1980s. That conflicts with the account of a total of seven sources -- who spoke on the condition of anonymity -- who told the Post that the offensive name of the hunting grounds was written on a flat slab of rock at the entrance to the property and was visible during the 1980s and 1990s when Perry launched his political career. One source said the word could be seen as late as 2008.
In a response to First Read, Perry Communications Director Ray Sullivan disputed the accuracy of those accounts.
"The rock was obscured in 1983 or 1984 and remained so," he said. "Named interviewees in the story corroborate that. The story has no named sources seeing the name on the rock in later 80s and 90s claim and those unnamed sources contradict one another."
Sullivan said Perry's last visit to the property was in December 2006 and that he stopped leasing it in 2007. The Perry campaign says the story's suggestion that Perry brought guests to the property when the offensive language was visible is also false.
Full statement follows:
"A number of claims made in the story are incorrect, inconsistent, and anonymous, including the implication that Rick Perry brought groups to the lease when the word on the rock was still visible. The one consistent fact in the story is that the word on a rock was painted over and obscured many years ago. Governor Perry and his family never owned, controlled or managed the property referenced in the Washington Post story. The 42,000-acre ranch is owned by the Hendricks Home for Children, a West Texas charity.
"Perry’s father painted over offensive language on a rock soon after leasing the 1,000-acre parcel in the early 1980s. When Governor Perry was party to the hunting lease from 1997 to 2007, the property was described as northern pasture. He has not been to the property since 2006. In 1991 the Texas Legislature passed a bill to rename old, offensive place names."