Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rick Perry, Chris Bell, the Governors' Associations, and the big picture

So when the Green Party -- as well as millions of disaffected non-voters across the country -- say, "Both parties do it", this is the kind of thing they're talking about. Let's begin with Harvey Kronberg.


Nugget buried in story from RG Ratcliffe and Joe Holley

From the story:

"White got 71 percent of his money in state and a quarter of it from Washington, D.C., with more than $1 million coming from the Democratic Governors Association.

"A check of IRS filings shows a lot of the Governor's Association money originated in the Houston area, including $400,000 from trial lawyer Steve Mostyn; $125,000 from the firm of Williams, Kherkher, Hart and Bounds; and $75,000 from trial lawyer Walter Umphrey, of Beaumont. Umphrey and Mostyn also donated $25,000 each directly to White's campaign.

"Democrats had complained after the 2006 election that the Republican Governor's Association donated $1 million to Perry's campaign after receiving like donations from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry".

Following up, Harvey once again.


Lawsuit originated over camoflaged campaign contributions routed through Republican Governors Association

A number of news organizations today spotted an interesting irony in the Perry campaign report to the Texas Ethics Commission.

The campaign paid 2006 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell $426,000 to settle a lawsuit over campaign contributions routed through the Republican Governors Association. The money came from Houston home builder Bob Perry and was presumably sent through the RGA to conceal the contributor's identity.

Ironically, as we noted earlier today, the Bill White campaign accepted around a million bucks from the Democratic Governors Association. The DGA money appeared to be largely funded by several prominent trial lawyers.

No word as to whether Perry intends to sue White for mimicking the 2006 Perry campaign tactic.

The Statesman story.

The Dallas Morning News story.

According to the DMN link, the only difference appears to be that ...

Voters didn't know the full extent of the funding arrangement until after the election. ...

Shortly before the November general election four years ago, Bob Perry gave $1 million to the RGA, which delivered the total to Perry in two payments shortly before election day. Democrats complained about the arrangement, saying it happened so late it was hidden from voters.

So as Kronberg points out, the Democrats picked up a clue ... followed suit, and now everything's even.


Four years ago when I attended the Texas Democratic Party Convention, I received my delegate package in a black canvas bag that had a large, dinner-plate-sized logo of AT&T on the side.  AT&T in fact has been a large contributor to the TDP for a few cycles now; these corporate contributions coming in the allowed-by-law 'administrative expenses' column. This was also about the time that AT&T was beginning to be revealed as allowing the Bush administration to wiretap its customers wholesale without benefit of FISA search warrant. The same warrantless surveillance, incidentally, that the Obama administration has fought to keep.

But I digress; this post is supposed to be about Texas politics. (Oh wait, it still is.)

It really stretches credulity to suggest that the 'Democrats are higher and mightier than Republicans' when the the evidence occasionally -- some would say 'repeatedly' -- contradicts this premise. And I say that as a proud Texas Democratic Party precinct chair, working hard to get more Democrats elected to Austin in the fall.

No, to paraphrase Churchill and democracy, this is the worst political party in the world. Except for all the others. And to the original source to close ... seems to me that there are a number of potential responses: Engage earnestly with the system, sit things out, or, as H.L. Mencken suggests, lean back and chuckle grimly as the farce replays itself over and over again.  

I choose the first option.

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