Rick Perry criticised for fund-raising gifts

 

Rick Perry, suddenly the front-runner in the Republican nomination stakes, last month described Washington as a "seedy place" he didn't care for.

Yet something similar, critics are beginning to cry, might apply to the manner in which he has raised chests of cash for his successive gubernatorial campaigns in Texas.

As he embarks on the task of expanding his fund-raising machine nationally, Mr Perry said this to reassure a group of potential evangelical donors at a private dinner near Austin last weekend: "I can assure you that there is nothing in my life that will embarrass you if you decide to support me for President."

But it is precisely allegations of a barely disguised pay-for-play climate in Texas since Governor Perry took office in late 2000 that some analysts see as his biggest vulnerability as he reaches for the White House, even if, thanks to lax fund-raising laws in the state, there has been no suggestion of campaign criminality.

New details of Perry donors also benefiting from favours such as positions on state bodies, tax breaks, grants or state contracts emerge almost daily, many uncovered by national news organisations. According to The Washington Post, drawing on research by Texans for Public Justice, 34 of his top 50 Texan donors, who have collectively given him $21m (£14m), have taken with the other hand from state government. "Perry has taken it to a whole new level," commented Tom Smith, Texas director of another watchdog group, Public Citizen. "There's often a direct link between Perry's decisions and payments to his campaign coffers."

One figure under the microscope is his No 1 donor, Bob Perry, no relation. The owner of Perry Homes is on the record donating $100,000 to the governor at a time when he was lobbying for the creation of a new commission charged in part with limiting the ability of home-buyers to sue builders for faulty construction. (The house builder has written $2m in cheques in total for the Governor.) When the commission was born, a top Perry Homes executive was appointed to its board.

More troubling may be an exclusive report by Reuters suggesting that Governor Perry attempted to subvert a commission charged with authorising a west Texas dump run by the Texas billionaire and big donor Harold Simmons to accept low-grade nuclear waste from 36 US states. Previously, only waste from Vermont was allowed. As a decision loomed, a key opponent on the commission, Bobby Gregory, owner of another landfill company, was offered a prestigious post as a state university regent.

Accepting would have taken him off the commission, but he declined. A lawyer for Mr Gregory confirmed to the news agency that the approach happened. The nuclear transfer project went ahead anyway.

"Governor Perry makes appointments based on the qualifications of an individual and his or her ability to serve in Texans' best interests, nothing more," Catherine Frazier, a Perry spokeswoman, responded. "The project was approved overwhelmingly by the Texas legislature, and has the support of the local community."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: .NET Developer / Web Developer

£35-45K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer / Web ...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Manager - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Commercial Manager is required to join a lea...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

£18000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for your first ...

Recruitment Genius: .NET Web / Software Developer - ASP.NET

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Small and agile digital marketi...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders