Skip to comments.Perry’s Patronage Problem : Donors have reaped benefits, but there’s a lot of transparency in Texas
Posted on 08/23/2011 7:13:40 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Since his announcement for the presidency, there have been a slew of articles, left, right, and center, decrying Rick Perrys cronyism his supposed habit of rewarding his biggest donors with patronage positions or valuable state contracts. So is the criticism fair?
Perry is a legendary fundraiser, and his preferred method is sticking with the big game. He has raised $37 million over the last decade from just 150 people, per the Los Angeles Times. Expand the list to the top 200 or so donors and you get $51 million, per The Nation. Thats already more than the total amount raised by George W. Bush in two campaigns as Texas governor, and just over half of Perrys total haul of $101 million since his first campaign.
Accumulating all this cash has certainly left the governor with favors to return, and return them he has, say critics. The case most often cited is that of billionaire Harold Simmons, who donated a total of $1.12 million to Perry and in turn secured permission to build a radioactive disposal site in west Texas. Not only did Simmons successfully lobby to have state law changed so that a private company such as his could obtain the requisite license, he also made sure the law would allow the granting of only one such license. Moreover, the license itself was approved by the Perry-appointed commissioners of the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality, and the review process was overseen by the executive director they hired: one Glenn Shankle, who within six months of signing off on the waste facility left TCEQ and secured a lobbying contract worth up to $150,000 in Simmonss outfit.
As Glenn Davis a TCEQ staffer who resigned in protest over what he claimed were irregularities in the approval process put it in an interview with The Texas Observer, Even the Mafia was more cirucmspect than this.
And theres more where Simmons came from. Take B. J. Red McCombs, who gave Perry $400,000, and received $25 million in subsidies to build a Formula One racetrack near Austin. Or James Dannenbaum, who gave more than $320,000 to Perry, and in turn received multiple transportation contracts from the state. Or the more than half of Perry-appointed university regents who have donated money to his campaign. Or the Texas Enterprise Fund, which awarded millions in grants to corporate donors (to little avail, according to critics). And on it goes.
But even as the headlines can and should remain a significant factor as conservative opinion-makers and the primary electorate vet Perry for his presidential run, a look at the institutional and political context of Perrys governorship reveals that there may be less to the Perry-as-crony-capitalist story than meets the eye. Here are five reasons why:
1. The Texas governor is constitutionally weak, sharing authority with a number of other statewide elected officials, including the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the comptroller, and various commissioners. Perrys personality, his bully pulpit, and his long tenure in office (Texas has no term limits) have helped turn him into the strongest weak governor in America, and so too have the appointments Perry makes to the approximately 200 boards, commissions, and agencies he oversees within the state appointments that have come to be used as strategic leverage for advancing the governors policy agenda.
Its a legitimate use of power, says Joshua Trevino, a vice president at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), a free-market 501(c)(3) think tank based in Austin. Theres nothing [Perry] is vested with in terms of patronage power or appointment power that would be out of place in the federal government itself. Or indeed in many other states. And as with governors in many other states . . .
2. Perrys decisions are constrained. Cash grants from controversial programs like the Texas Enterprise Fund require approval of the independently elected lieutenant governor and speaker of the house, not just the governor. Most executive appointments require approval of two-thirds of the states senate, and informally many require senatorial courtesy the approval of the senator from the appointees home district. As such, the vast majority of Perrys appointments require a buy-in from Democrats. Furthermore, commissioners and other appointees serve staggered terms, and Texas governors are proscribed from replacing their predecessors picks. Then again . . .
3. Perry has been around so long that virtually every appointed official in the state was appointed by him. Even commissioners who serve six-year terms, even commissioners who were originally appointed by George W. Bush or Ann Richards, have been re-appointed by Perry. This both ups the sample size of appointments for critics to scrutinize and amplifies the chance that Perrys friends and benefactors will be appointed.
You typically dont appoint to positions of trust your opponents. That usually doesnt happen, chuckles Michael Quinn Sullivan, president of the Empower Texans Foundation and a major figure in conservative circles. [Governors] usually appoint successful citizens who they are friends with, and that often translates to people who contributed to their campaigns. Which leads us to the fact that . . .
4. Perry operates in the light of day. True, there are no limits on individual contributions to candidates in Texas, but the state has long banned corporate donations, and records for individual donors are easily obtained (which is surely part of the reason that so many stories have been written on Perrys donors). The state maintains an exhaustive electronic database of finance and lobbying activities, and it even had a delinquent-filers list. All of which is to say that . . .
5. Perry is not (yet) Rod Blagojevich. Conspicuously missing from the Perry stories is any suggestion that Perry himself has done anything unlawful. If this were a real charge, as Sullivan puts it, Mr. Democratic Strategist Who Hates Rick Perry would take his case to the FBI and not the Washington Post. All the commissioners Perry appointed and all the commissions that have awarded money to Perry donors have conducted their business in accordance with the states open-records laws.
Nor is there a sense among free-market Texans that Perry let quid pro quo dominate his economic policies to the detriment of the state.
Part of the focus on Perrys alleged cronyism may be due to the increased focus among the conservative electorate on the distinction between free-market policies and corporatist policies. But speaking for TPPF, Trevino says, We have found the governor to be an ally on [free-market] issues, and nothing I have seen in the last week has changed my opinion on that.
Even Sullivan, who affirms his groups long-held opposition to corporate giveaways like the Texas Enterprise Fund, says that even though he cant stand them, we seem to be running those stupid things better than other states.
Daniel Foster is news editor of National Review Online.
Even here on FR,there is more support because of personality than because of conservative principles. The posts by some Palin supporters are very much cultist. Perry supporters posts are full of Texan bravado and spin. Romney Posts and Guilianni posts were much the same. Many FReepers never bought in to the Tea Party theme that we needed conservative change, not just change more conservative than Obama. That's the weak, effete, Republican elite's position, "we're pretty, we're rich, and we're better than Obama". It's a selffullfilling prophesy when you don't support someone because they don't have enough support. This is what I believe is happening to Bachmann.
Whoever gets the Republican nomination, if they are not conservative enough to get the Tea Party people to rally around them, there will be a third party candidate which, in all likelihood, will mean an Obama victory. I hope the Republicans learned from the Perot candidacy, when the establishment Republicans turned a deaf ear to the legitimate complaints of Perot supporters. If not, the same, ruling class Republican elites will be to blame for Obama's second term.
Ridiculous. Don't you know Perry is the second coming of Chuck Norris?
"I think there is a path to citizenship for
those young men and women ILLEGAL ALIENS who have served their country," Perry said.
THEIR COUNTRY?! Perry thinks America is THEIR COUNTRY?!
Perry wants to give ILLEGAL aliens citizenship
In 2001, Perry signed into law the very first Texas Dream ACT. It allowed the children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at any Texas university. Perry defended the Texas Dream ACT, saying, To punish these young Texans for their parents' actions is not what America has always been about.
Perry then jetted off to Mexico and bragged to the Mexicans that Texas passed this law, saying, The message is simple, educacion es el futuro, y si se puede. Education is the future, and yes we can.
Rick Perrys immigration problem
In February 2007, Perry signed a shocking executive order forcing every sixth-grade girl to submit to a three-jab regimen of the Gardasil vaccine. He also forced state health officials to make the vaccine available "free" to girls ages 9 to 18. The drug, promoted by manufacturer Merck as an effective shield against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) and genital warts, as well as cervical cancer, had only been approved by the Food and Drug Administration eight months prior to Perry's edict.
Perry defenders pointed to a bogus "opt-out" provision in his mandate "to protect the right of parents to be the final authority on their children's health care." But requiring parents to seek the government's permission to keep an untested drug out of their kids' veins is a plain usurpation of their authority. Translation: Ask your bureaucratic overlord to determine if a Gardasil waiver is right for you.
Libertarians and social conservatives alike slammed Perry's reckless disregard for parental rights and individual liberty. The Republican-dominated legislature also balked. In May 2007, both chambers passed bills overturning the governor's unilaterally imposed health order.
Perry's vaccine order exposed lapse in political, policy judgments Rick Perrys Superficial Extremism The Texas governors record doesnt live up to his rhetoric.
The Gardasil debacle is just one of many concerns a wide range of grass-roots conservative activists have about Perrys record as governor. Hes soft on illegal immigration despite a few recent nods to border enforcement. Hes prone to crony capitalism. And as the vaccine mandate scandal shows, he demonstrated Nanny State tendencies that are anathema to Tea Party core principles.
Once again, the Perry campaign proves my point about the non-walkback-walkback. If Perry erred on the side of life, what his campaign continues to suggest is that those who opposed his Gardasil mandate from the beginning chose death. Instead of renouncing the human shield demagoguery he engaged it after the repeal, the Perry campaign has doubled-down. There is nothing nothing Tea Party about this.
The Gardasil debacle is a useful red flag on Perrys basic political instincts, judgment, core values, and trust. It is no surprise given his ties to Merck that Perry is a consummate practitioner of corporate welfare public-private partnerships.
Plumbing the rest of the Perry record
Perrys campaign website lists the Trans-Texas Corridor as one of his accomplishments. But is it something Perry really wants broadcast as an achievement? The Texas Republican Partys 2010 platform includes a plank specifically opposing the Trans-Texas Corridor.
Rick Perry's NAFTA Superhighway Problem
Rick Perry has a very questionable past. But one thing is not in question and that is Rick Perry is NOT conservative!
If Perry were as great as Perry supporters say he is they would welcome all discussion. But you know confidence is lacking when they try to discourage discourse.
I don’t think Perry is great. With apologies to Winston Churchill: Rick Perry is the worst candidate we have to run against Obama - except for all the others.
” THE REALLY BAD NEWS—resurrecting the neocons Perry has been endorsed by neocon guru (Fox talking head), Bill Kristol. “
One more nail in the Perry coffin....
Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall when the pukeneos discuss Perry in their inner sanctums?
Might sound something like this:
"Man, we lucked out. Perry is a bigger dupe then Bush. Watta tool. The guy will do anything to be president."
Kristol and Barnes both came out in support of amnesty years ago......and it was years ago that I quit watching Fox News : )
. . . . # 18 :
“Rick Perry will do more to ruin the image of Christians and move the Republican base to the left than any other candidate before him.......if he gets elected.”
“You got that right.”
“Texas jobs are being taken by ILLEGALS.......the very same border-violators Perry wants to gift with amnesty. The US needs a President who will CUT spending, and STOP illegal immigration....... not more business as usual.
“THIS DOES NOT BODE WELL Anyone who dares shine the light of truth on Perry results in being labeled pro-obama.........called a troll and a “Paultard.”
“MORE PROBLEMS Perrys coziness with the Chinese and foreign investors exposes a huge weakness in his right flankillegal immigration and open borders.
“Perry’s ill-conceived “Trans Texas Corridor” (wherein he used eminent domain to take land from Texans for foreigners) has been linked to the global plan to economically integrate North America, with the eventual goal of a common security perimeter modeled after the European Union.
“Perry ushered in in-state tuition for illegals and has objected to Arizona-style immigration laws in Texas.”
Have you seen this? It is scary.
Prior to Gov.Perry announcing his run for Republican candidacy, I had read about the “jobs” created in Texas being mainly transient, low-paying jobs in construction and agriculture filled by illegal aliens.
Texas’s economic record would be much more impressive if these jobs were solid, family-wage jobs, held by legal residents and that contributed to a stable community.
It isn’t hard to tell, but I am not enthusiastic about Perry’s run for the Presidency. He is a Globalist and big statist, and Texas under his governership has had budget busting years.
I’m a Texan, and NOT a Perry supporter.
That said, all of this hysteria is absurd.
Perry is not a leftist. He’s just a very good, ethically compromised, sleazy politican. Run-of-the-mill,in it for personal gain, with a good haircut.
Post #2 said it well.
Relax. He is absolutely not who we need right now. However, were he to be elected, he won’t do much damage and will likely be fairly ineffective once outside his home turf.
Jobs situation in Texas is much better than elsewhere.
I’m here. I know.
They aren’t just low-paying jobs. Energy, tech, and business sectors are doing well, but are still impacted by the overall national mess.
Perry, however, takes credit for a business climate that is not his to claim. We have limited government and limited government interference. These pre-dated Perry.
The credit goes to Texas, not the current governor.
you just might be correct...seems that certain corporate welfare hogs would agree
BoA needs Perry, he is one of their favorite tools
Bank Of America’s No-Good, Very Bad Enablers
BoA Sponsored breakfast for Perry in NH...
Bank of America’s Dead Drop To Rick Perry: “We Will Help You Out”
Very astute...I do expect the GOP to take the senate in 2012...and we can be rid of Reid...If reelected, Obama will be dealing with both house fully GOP.
The US needs a President who will CUT spending, and STOP illegal immigration...
BUMP! (President and Congress) DEFUND socialist collectives, foreign and domestic.
Men naturally rebel against the injustice of which they are victims. Thus, when plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter by peaceful or revolutionary means into the making of laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it.
Woe to the nation when this latter purpose prevails among the mass victims of lawful plunder when they, in turn, seize the power to make laws!
As soon as the plundered classes gain political power, they establish a system of reprisals against other classes. They do not abolish legal plunder. (This objective would demand more enlightenment than they possess.) Instead, they emulate their evil predecessors by participating in this legal plunder, even though it is against their own interests.
It is as if it were necessary, before a reign of justice appears, for everyone to suffer a cruel retribution some for their evilness, and some for their lack of understanding.
It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.
“The Law” - Frederic Bastiat 1801-1850
Please tell us more about the “religious cleansing of the Republican Party.”
(I call Paulers, Paulers, btw.)
Our jobs are not low paying. Our average wage and annual salaries are right in the middle of the US, and are in the top 5 or 6 fastest growing of the states. That’s while we add 1/3 of the new jobs in the US and absorb 750,000 new legal immigrants from all over the Nation.
Do a search on FReeRepublic for “Texas jobs” for more info.
I lived in Texas. No amount of money would entice me to ever move back.