In 2010, we put Senator John Carona, astride an elephant, on our cover. It was one of the worst-selling issues in the history of D Magazine. I blame Wick. Sure, putting the story on our cover was mostly my idea. (Okay, entirely my idea.) But Wick should have had enough sense to lock me in a storage closet until my madness passed and the rest of the staff had time to get out a magazine with an attractive model on the cover. Also, he wrote the story. It was as much about the sorry state of the Republican Party as it was about Carona himself. But there was plenty about the man, too. Here’s how the story wrapped up:
Carona continues in his dogged way to press his case to whoever will listen. Like an Old Testament prophet, he’ll spell out the consequences of their mismanagement to his colleagues, even though they flee at the sight of him barreling down the halls of the state capitol. He knows a prophet is not honored in his own country or, in Carona’s case, in his own party. He knows the prophets of old were ridiculed, stoned, cut in half, and thrown into wells.
It doesn’t seem to bother him. Maybe it’s because he also knows those prophets of yore were right.
Contrast that with the Carona story in the current issue of Texas Monthly. Titled “Conflicts and Interests,” the piece by Jay Root (a joint project with the Texas Tribune) takes a fascinating look at how Carona balances his business interests with his duties as a state senator. Carona, you see, is the president and CEO of Associa, the country’s largest manager of homeowners’ associations, with 9,000 HOAs in 31 states. From the story:
But the Dallas millionaire isn’t just the president and CEO of Associa. He’s also a powerful state senator who chairs the Committee on Business and Commerce and who, back in 2001, authored the law that enshrined pro-industry HOA foreclosure practices in statute, ensuring that associations … could continue to aggressively collect fees and dues from homeowners. And if you’re flabbergasted by that fact, well, you don’t know much about Texas politics.
The story goes on to note that “Associa employs 8,800 people and remains the largest and most active business operated by a member of the Legislature” and that Carona employs lobbyists to influence his colleagues. It’s a fine piece of reporting that only — ahem — deepens my appreciation of Carona’s business acumen.
And now I will hand over my office key fob to Wick.