Rick Perry's Texas is Open for Sale! …Err, Business!

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Attention Would-Be Regents, Lobbyists, Justices, and Entrepreneurs! With the launch of Rick Perry's presidential campaign, Texas is once again “Open” for “Business!” If you thought you could only pay to play during his gubernatorial campaigns, didn't cough up enough cash in 2010, or need to make amends for supporting KBH, you've got a brand new opportunity and brand new finance rules to bundle big bucks for Perry.

Great news not just for Texas, but for influence-peddlers in all 50 non-seceding United States! Fork over large sums of cash to Rick Perry today, win plush political perks tomorrow.

Want a hot appointment to an advisory board, or control over our public universities? According to Texans for Public Justice, almost 25% of Rick Perry's appointees have donated heavily to his campaigns, including a whopping 53% of university regents, amassing over $17,000,000 in political donations.

Click “There's More” to find out how you, yes You! can buy your way into….

Board of Regents Appointments!

Emerging Technology Fund Handouts!

State Supreme Court Appointments!

and last but not least…

Forced Vaccinations of Sixth Grade Girls!

(This post even comes with a soundtrack!)

Here are just some of the benefits your mega-dollar donations to Rick Perry can buy for you, or a family member!

Board of Regents Appointments!

Have you ever wanted to serve on the Board of Regents and set policy for one of Texas' public universities? Great! Get out your checkbook, because for the low, low price of about one hundred thousand dollars, you too can buy a place for you or a spouse on a Board of Regents!

Serving on a Board of Regents is an important job. The Regents are responsible for all major decisions pertaining to their university system. They're like the school board for the university, basically. According to UT Watch their decisions carry the force of statutes under Texas law. They hire (and fire!) the chancellor and major administrative positions. At UT, three regents sit on the board that manages the many-billion-dollar UT Investment Management Co, or UTIMCO, which has had its share of scandals over the years. It's worth noting that the vast majority of regents don't have a strong background in education.

Rick Perry collected over $6,000,000 in campaign funds from his appointed Regents. It'll cost you to “serve” the state's flagships. UT Regent Steve Hicks has dumped over $450,000 into Perry's campaign coffers over the years, about a third of it before he was appointed. This past February, Perry appointed Cliff Thomas Jr. to the A&M Board of Regents. Thomas donated $326,000 to Perry since 2000.

And don't cross Rick Perry! Remember, two Texas Tech regents who donated to Kay Bailey Hutchison during 2010's Republican Gubernatorial primary were pressured to resign by Perry's aides.

But otherwise then it's easy, right? Just go to football games and glad-hand donors and deans? No! Rick Perry likes to strong-arm his appointees to adopt questionable “education reforms” put forth by another of his big donors. And don't fall down to the bottom of the donor list — that's practically a guarantee Perry will replace you when your term is up.

UT Regent and Board Chair Gene Powell is already hard at work bundling those checks, so now's as good a time as any to get involved and make friends and connections that can last a lifetime, or at least a six-year regent's term.

Want to find out what it'll cost you to serve on the Regents Board of your choice? The Texas Tribune has a handy table of Regent donations. Wow, Wendy “Wife of Phil” Gramm got a bargain, only $1000 donated to Perry! It must be the sharp fiscal skills she developed as a member of Enron's audit committee.

Emerging Technology Fund Handouts!

Donate to Perry? Need a business boost? Perry's Emerging Technology Fund is here to help get your business up off the ground with heaping piles of taxpayer dollars! So far, at least $16 million in tech fund awards have gone to companies whose investors or officers were large campaign donors to Perry.

The Dallas Morning News has been dogged in their reporting on various ETF scandals. The DMN compiled this list of ETF disbursements to Perry donors:

  • $2.75 million to Terrabon Inc., a Houston company. Its backers have included Phil Adams, a college friend of Perry's who has given his campaign at least $314,000.
  • $1.75 million to Gradalis Inc., a Carrollton firm. Among its investors has been Dr. James R. Leininger, who has contributed more than $264,000 to Perry's campaigns.
  • $1.5 million to ThromboVision Inc., a Houston company. One of its investors was Charles W. Tate, who has donated more than $424,000 to Perry.
  • $2 million to Seno Medical Instruments Inc. of San Antonio. Its investors have included Southwest Business Corp. and its subsidiaries, whose chairman, Charles Amato, gave Perry more than $32,000.
  • $975,000 to Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc. of Houston. At the time of the award, one investor was William A. McMinn, who has contributed $152,000 to Perry.

In one noted example, Perry donor David J. Nance received $4.5 million from the ETF after he was initially denied the funds. Then he went through some sort of “appeals process” — which the ETF chair says doesn't actually exist — until he got his cash. Nance is now suing to keep the details of his application private. Nance donated $80,000 to Perry, so it looks like he got a pretty good ROI on his investment!

Keeping it in the family, Nance's daughter was hired, all the way from California, to do PR for the fund, to the tune of $70,000. Must be nice! Meanwhile, the state auditor's office has called for more transparency from the fund, including public meetings, recorded votes, and other ethics reforms.

But hey, there's nothing quite so fun as doling out massive government handouts (but mainly to your buddies) while railing against the Stimulus. Yes, the same Stimulus Perry used to balance the budget. Hey, can a person get an ETF grant to create an irony-generating machine, and then just hook it up to Rick Perry?

State Supreme Court Appointments!

Got a law degree? Want to serve on the highest court in the state? Just get all of your friends, family, and cronies to endorse Rick Perry. But don't let them back one of his opponents, or else you're out of luck. That's the story told by Rose Vela, a judge in Corpus Christi who sought Perry's appointment to a vacancy on the SCOTX, which eventually went to Justice Eva “I Survived My Republican Primary Because No Anglos Ran Against Me” Guzman. So Vela primaried Guzman for the seat. Vela lost.  

Per the Statesman, Vela's husband had endorsed Hutchison in the Gubernatorial primary, thus she was out of the running. Her husband stated, “[Rose] was not on a level playing field because I had contributed to Hutchison, and I wasn't going to switch my support just to help her get the appointment.” Ouch!

BUT WAIT! There's more!

Forced Vaccinations of Sixth Grade Girls!

Act fast, and you can convince the Governor to issue an “Executive Order” to inoculate every 6th grade girl with a new and controversial vaccine against a sexually transmitted disease! All for the bargain price of $16,000 in donations, plus whatever you pay to employ Rick Perry's former Chief of Staff Mike Toomey as your lobbyist. While I support an end to cervical cancer as much as the next woman, the fact is, Rick Perry hardly had the health of Texas' young ladies in mind when he tried to ink a deal that would generate millions to billions for one of his corporate cronies.

Merck, manufacturer of Gardasil, the first HPV vaccine to hit the market, spent a lot of money on a national lobbying push to get states to require the vaccine less than a year after it was approved by the FDA. There was a rival HPV vaccine on the way from GlaxoSmithKline, and Merck needed to act fast to monopolize the mandated-vaccine market. Merck hired Mike Toomey, former Perry COS, to pave the way in Texas. The day the deal was likely made, Merck donated $5000 to Perry and $5000 to the “Women in Government” group helmed by the mother-in-law of Perry's then-COS, Deirdre Delisi. Merck previously pitched in $6000 during the Governor's 2006 re-election bid.  

So Perry wasn't really acting in the best interests of his female constituents, but rather in the best interest of Merck's pocket books. Had the mandated vaccine become law, at a cost of about $360 per young lady, Merck would have raked it in. Irony? Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said after the fact that if Perry had only met with lawmakers in the Lege, they could have compromised on an opt-in scheme for the vaccine.

So get those checkbooks ready! Rick Perry's got an aggressive fundraising schedule this summer, and he wants his first million dollars ASAP. Now is the time to pay to play in Texas. And to sweeten the deal, Perry's already offering perks at the Republican National Convention. Hospitality suite, anyone?


About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.

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