Gov. Rick Perry's campaign has unknowingly paid convicted felons as part-time workers under its incentive program to turn out voters for the Republican primary.
The campaign lists about 300 part-time workers on the financial disclosure forms it filed with the state, recruits under the "Perry Home Headquarters" program that pays people to get others to sign up as a Perry supporter and pledge to vote. A handful have criminal histories, a Dallas Morning News review shows.
No really, THANKS! I think it's great that he's giving these people opportunities in this economy when they would have few even in a good one.
"People in life make mistakes," said Perry spokesman Mark Miner. "It doesn't mean they can't get a second chance and work hard. That's what these people are doing. They are out there trying to change their lives and make a difference."
Hear, hear! (Spin, spin.)
Beyond that, the program has become a money-making opportunity, especially for those with extensive social networking profiles. Some may be in it more for the cash than the candidate. For instance, one lists herself as a Facebook fan of President Barack Obama, an unlikely political pairing.
Well maybe she's, you know, just another disillusioned Democrat.
...Joshua Furrh of Fort Worth, convicted of possession of a controlled substance and sentence to three years probation in 2007, was paid $480 by the Perry campaign.
He acknowledged that he was on probation but declined to discuss his case any further or to talk about the Perry program.
"He's going to make a great governor, again," Furrh said.
Good on ya, buddy. Don't buy any more dope with it.
Enterprising workers use their Twitter and Facebook accounts to help them recruit. Shaniqua Curry of Denton earned $3,420 for her effort, which included a plaintive Twitter plea: "HELP ME RAISE MONEY FOR MY NEXT CAR!!! COPY, PASTE, AND SIGN UP TO SUPPORT RICK PERRY!" the tweet read.
Maybe Shaniqua can cross-sell with her Avon or Amway network. Yeah, that's the ticket!
"As a reminder, you have the potential to receive an additional $20 for each headquarter that fulfills their commitments of voting early in the primary (Feb. 16-26) and recruiting 11 voters," wrote Elyse Derian, the Houston regional director for Perry's campaign. "Please take these next few weeks to encourage your headquarters to recruit those 11 individuals to commit to vote!"
Needing to focus on getting voters to the polls, the Perry campaign scrapped part of its incentive pay.
"For those of you that are being compensated for your work, the campaign will not compensate you from this point forward for any new" recruiters that are brought in, Derian wrote this month. "However, the bonus for getting your [recruiters] to identify and turn out 11 registered voters is still as is."
Derian also urged the workers to make sure the people they recruited were registered to vote. Many of the names turned in by the part-time workers were either not registered to vote or lived outside of Texas.
Campaign officials remain confident the program will help Perry at the polls.
"It's doing what we said it would do," Miner said. "When you're taking on an unprecedented effort like this, there is always room to grow."
Who wants to be a millionaire? Thanks again, Governor Perry!
(You don't think any of 'em could also be working for ACORN, do you?)