Perry Brings Cronyism to Washington

Perry’s scandals in Texas should be revisited during confirmation hearings
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Most of the country remembers Rick Perry as the goofy “oops” Presidential candidate in 2012 or for his awkward and silly appearances on Dancing with the Stars.  But Texans know Perry best as a relentless and successful self-promoter who defined cronyism and pay-to-pay politics during his decade as Texas Governor.  If confirmed as Donald Trump’s Secretary of Energy, no one should worry about Perry trying to eliminate the department with his out of touch views on climate change.  Instead, Americans should expect cronyism, contract scandals and a general pay-to-play culture where taxpayer money is wasted and public trust betrayed.  

Here are just some of the scandals that played out during Rick Perry’s time as Texas Governor and hopefully will be revisited during his confirmation hearings: 

Double dipping:  The first pockets Rick Perry looks to fill are usually his own. His personal greed is best reflected in a double-dipping scandal where Perry was taking his $150,000 per year salary as Texas Governor while also drawing a full pension as a retired government worker.  Perry kept the double payments secret until he was forced to disclose the income during his Presidential run.  Perry’s two-fisted grab of taxpayer funds outraged both Democrats and Republicans in the Texas Legislature who passed legislation to outlaw Perry’s actions.

Exploiting Cancer Research:  Few examples expose Perry’s pay-to-play politics more clearly than his history of giving special access to campaign contributors who received state grant funds intended for cancer research.  In 2007, Texas voters approved the multibillion-dollar Texas Cancer Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), which was created to help find life changing cures for cancer. The fund was designed to provide grants to scientific organizations and medical centers after a rigorous and competitive vetting process. Under Perry, CPRIT fell into scandal after giving his campaign donors easy access to grant dollars. In one case, a start-up company with a Perry donor as a key investor received $11 million dollars from CPRIT without proper review or oversight.  

Promoting HPV Vaccine for Lobbyist & Donor: In 2007, Governor Perry ordered that all 11 and 12 year old girls in Texas receive an HPV vaccine.  This order was highly controversial on both sides of the political aisle even though some Texans were pleasantly surprised that Perry would show sensitivity to young women at risk from a sexually transmitted virus. However, it quickly became apparent that Perry was not acting out of concern or taking a progressive view on a public health matter.  It turns out that Perry’s former chief of staff and political confidant, lobbyist Mike Toomey, had been retained by the pharmaceutical drug company that made the vaccine and had donated to Perry’s political campaign while Perry was considering whether to sign the executive order mandating the vaccines.

Texas Enterprise Fund: Early in his first full term as Governor, Perry pushed through the creation of the Texas Enterprise Fund, a taxpayer funded program to give businesses incentive to relocate or expand into Texas. Companies were supposed to apply for grants after agreeing to move operations to Texas and meet specific job creation goals.  A 2014 audit found that the fund had awarded over $200 million to companies that never submitted formal applications or were given taxpayer money without proving they had reached job creation or economic development goals.  The Texas Enterprise Fund was so corrupt and dysfunctional under Perry’s watch that it was nearly disbanded before being entirely revamped and reorganized after he left office.

 

Statement from LSP Director Matt Angle:

“Objections to Rick Perry on substantive energy issues are fair enough, but scandals and cronyism should disqualify him.  As Texas Governor, Perry made pay-to-pay cronyism business as usual in the Texas Capitol.  While the Texas economy was humming along on the strength of high energy prices, Rick Perry was helping his friends and donors skim off the top to enrich themselves and consolidate his power.
 
“Rick Perry may be more likeable than Donald Trump but both are entirely self-absorbed and focus on short-term personal gain at the expense of everyone else while covering it all up with blustering BS.”

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