a very long time ago. He and his revolving door of donors and cronies have entrenched themselves comfortably in a tightly controlled gated compound that is filed with lavish opulence fit for kings and queens. There is a swimming pool, cabana, servants, a collection of fine wines and exquisite cuisine. The gates into and out of Perry's community are impenetrable. Not just anyone can live or go near Perry and his cronies. One must first apply for residency. A board comprised of the Governor's appointed community officials decide who deserves to live among their ranks. Usually one is deemed deserving if one donates generously to Perry's political campaign coffers and those who give the Governor advice on potentially profitable real estate.
Those living outside of the compound must support it by providing the Governor with a salary that includes benefits. Outsiders are also expected to cover the costs of the Governor's housing expenses and security detail. In exchange for all of these benefits, the Governor agrees to serve the people as their public servant. A Governor's mission is to serve all of the people in his or her state, not just those that voted for them.
Unfortunately for most Texans Perry may have taken an oath to serve but he has largely ignored his job description. The only ones served in Texas so far are Rick Perry and his cronies.
In the ten years that he has performed as Governor, Rick Perry has made himself a very wealthy man. Meanwhile our K-12 schools rank second to last nationwide and we have the highest number of uninsured residents. In 2002, Rick Perry promised that he would start cracking down on insurance companies but in 8 years, he's done little more than accept $1 million in campaign contributions from the insurance industry. Ten of his staff members have made out grandly too as all have earned millions serving as lobbyists for insurance companies.
This past Saturday's edition of the Houston Chronicle discloses the financial histories of both of the gubernatorial candidates, Rick Perry and his Democratic opponent Bill White. There is no doubt whatsoever that both Bill White and Rick Perry are very wealthy men. According to the report White earned much of his wealth from his former careers as a trial lawyer and company CEO though he did profit from some of his investments while serving as Houston's mayor. White also served in the federal government during the Clinton Administration.
Rick Perry, on the other hand, has accumulated all of his wealth while serving as a public servant. He has been a politician much of his professional life and he has little if any experience in the corporate or private sectors.
There is certainly nothing wrong with one's luck, good fortune, hard work and talent to make a lot of money. Drive, creativity, innovation, passion, commitment and a willingness to burn the midnight oil 24/7 certainly should have its rewards. At least this is true in the corporate and private sectors. Hard work, a deep commitment to one's line of work with a potential financial reward is, as we know, the pillar of the American dream.
But those who serve in public office as elected officials, whose main purpose is to serve the people, have certain accountability standards to meet. There are and should be legitimate questions asked when any elected official becomes wealthy on the job given the fact that taxpayers pay his/her salary, health care benefits and housing expenses.
Is the public servant serving the people or him/herself?
The Houston Chronicle's article reports on how both men realized their wealth. This diary will focus on Governor Perry. My question is if and how the people of Texas were short changed while the Governor focused on enriching himself. By so doing has Rick Perry failed to serve the needs and the interests of people of Texas?
Demands to come clean
Perry has said he will not debate White until he releases his tax returns for the years he was a deputy U.S. energy secretary.
White said Perry needs to come clean on assets in his blind trust.
“Perry has used his position to secure special deals to become a millionaire while in office,” White said. “Whether it is his appointments, or dealings with lobbyists, or his land deals, Perry helps his friends and his friends help Perry, personally and politically.”
White said the public knows less about Perry's deals than his own business interests because Perry “hides” his dealings in a blind trust. White said he will not have a blind trust if elected governor.
Perry responded by saying the point of a blind trust is so financial decisions will not affect his policies.
“I have no idea what's in the blind trust, and frankly, I don't want to know,” the governor said.
Legally, Perry is not barred from knowing what is in the trust, but officials at the Texas Ethics Commission said since passage of a 2003 law, if a politician with a blind trust knows an asset in the trust, then that asset must be publicly disclosed. Perry set up his trust in 1996.
Before and after the trust was set up, ethical questions on the real estate deals that have made Perry hundreds of thousands of dollars were plentiful.
Perry continues to beat the same dead horse of an excuse for his refusal to debate Bill White. Even if White were to adhere to Perry's request for tax returns from the Clinton era, the Governor would demand yet another document of some sort. Bill White is obviously aware of the Governor's game that is mired in cowardice.
Many of us appreciate the fact that our chicken of a Governor won't debate Mr. White b/c he possesses neither the courage or the integrity. That or Perry's dictatorial arrogance is such that he believes voters are not deserving of a debate between political candidates.
Rick Perry's pay to play politics and cronyism at its finest.
The most recent controversy involved .56 acres at Horseshoe Bay that never was put into the trust. Perry bought the lot in 2001 through childhood friend state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, for $300,000, but the actual seller was San Antonio financier Doug Jaffe. Perry sold the lot in 2007 to one of Jaffe's business associates for $1.15 million.
In between, Perry's office approved a $2.5 million grant to an aircraft company that included Jaffe as a founding investor, but the money never was delivered because the company did not meet job-growth commitments.
The Dallas Morning News hired appraisers who said Perry got the land for $150,000 below market and sold it for $350,000 above the market price for comparable real estate.
Perry's aides have contended the appraisals were unfair. Perry said it was a straight real estate transaction.
“Here's what I think most Texans would say: If you bought a piece of property in central Texas, particularly at Lake LBJ in 2001, and you didn't make money on it six years later, we might not want you to be governor. You'd be a pretty rotten business person,” Perry said.
However, Perry's aides could not immediately explain why the governor reported a capital gain of $823,766 in March 2007 from the property's sale on his federal income taxes, but his blind trust grew by only $117,000 between December 2006 and December 2007.
Differences in amounts
Perry's office in the past said the profits from the Horseshoe Bay sale went into the blind trust. But the trust ended 2007 with a value of $742,184, an amount substantially less than his gain on the Horseshoe Bay property. The value at the end of 2006 had been $625,322, according to figures supplied by Perry's campaign.
The Horseshoe Bay transaction was similar to a 1993 real estate deal to which Perry was directed by an old friend named Tim Timmerman, an Austin real estate developer, who, like Perry, is a Texas A&M graduate. Timmerman did not respond to requests for an interview.
Timmerman steered Perry into paying $122,000 for a 9.3 acre plot that became critical to the construction of a 33,000-square-foot home being built by computer millionaire Michael Dell. Perry sold the land to Dell two years later at a profit of $343,000.
Timmerman has given almost $69,000 to Perry's campaign funds this decade and serves on his finance committee.
Rewarding big donors with prestigious and powerful appointments.
In recent years, Timmerman was a focus of a fight in Hutto near Austin, where local residents opposed plans by Oncor and the Lower Colorado River Authority to build high-voltage electric transmission lines through the city.
The citizens preferred putting the lines along the Texas 130 toll road, but that would have meant the eye-sore lines would have been adjacent to land Timmerman planned to use for swank commercial and multi-family development as part of his Star Ranch community.
In 2008, Perry appointed Timmerman to the LCRA board of directors. The LCRA kept its line route away from Timmerman's property, and Perry's appointees on the Public Utility Commission voted down residents' request to re-route the lines to the highway right of way.
Perry described Timmerman as a friend and said there was nothing improper about the real estate tip or the appointment more than a decade later.
“I trust him and he's honest,” Perry said. “What better people would you want to serve on boards and agencies than people you know, that you trust and are honest?”
Of course Rick Perry said there was nothing improper about the land deal or his appointment. Tom Delay said the same thing when he was up to his eyeballs with ethics violations in Washington D.C and here at home. I swear, Texas Republican lawmakers could be caught covered in blood, standing over a dead body with a smoking gun in their hand and all would predictably tell police:
But I did nothing wrong.
I guess Texas Republican lawmakers have one set of rules for themselves and one for everyone else.
Pure Rick Perry politics.
So, former college buddy Timmerman who donated over $69,000 to the Perry campaign, gave Perry an inside tip on some property that would later become highly profitable. Perry made a lot of money from the deal. He later rewarded Timmerman by appointing him to the Board of Directors of the Lower Colorado River Authority. In that capacity Timmerman later used his position to stick the residents of Hutto with unsightly high voltage power lines. Timmerman did not want to disfigure his own nearby pet building project but he had no problem with scarring neighborhoods in Hutto.
How cronies can protect a Governor from a scandal or possible criminal act.
Few of us will forget the execution of a potentially innocent man Cameron Todd Willingham. Scientific experts had discovered that junk science was used as evidence to convict Mr. Willingham of murder. He was sentenced to death. Governor Perry had refused to intervene and Mr. Willingham met his death.
Forty eight hours before the Texas Forensic Science Commission was to meet to disclose its findings surrounding the Willingham case, Perry fired its head and replaced two board members. Naturally Perry replaced the head with one of his loyal cronies John Bradley. As we well know by now Bradley uses politically motivated and dictatorial practices to stonewall questions about the Willingham case. A typical Republican Bradley attacks those who dare to question him. He refers to Texans that seek answers as “New York lawyers.”
These are a prime example of how unbridled cronyism and pay to play politics is bad for the vast majority of Texans. When a public servant is focused like a laser microscope on enriching himself there is no way he can help himself from throwing the majority of Texans into the ditch. Four more years of Rick Perry politics will fatten the coffers of himself and his crony compound even more. Yet more people will be disenfranchised by deals just like the one in Hutto. And let's not forget about all of the folks who would have been impacted by Perry's land grabbing Trans Texas Corridor deal.
Back to Basics director Clifton Walker said Perry could try to revive portions of the corridor if voters re-elect him.
“Our land, homes and family farms just aren't safe with Rick Perry as governor,” Walker said.
With Perry at the helm more fact finding commissions that demand transparency will continue to be shut down by one of the Governor's avid loyalists. The dictatorial Governor and his supporters seem to have little regard, either for the lives of potentially innocent prisoners that have been sentenced to death. Perry's standard operating procedure: Hang 'em first, ask questions later or don't ask questions at all.
Perry's network of crony appointments cover the state like a gargantuan poisonous parasite with its tentacle reaching into every corner.
It is time to starve the blood sucking parasite. Let's begin by firing the host, i.e. an arrogant self serving Governor who has come to believe that he is a king or dictator. Rick Perry has forgotten that he is an elected public servant that serves the people in a state and in a country that is a democratic republic.