| Conservative Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Hypocritically Invested in Nation’s Largest Pornography Distributor.
Austin, TX—Via his campaign’s website, Governor Perry criticizes his opponent—Carole Strayhorn—claiming she, “is sadly not above exploiting child tragedies … What a despicable thing to do.” FN1. Despicable indeed. Yet, as a private citizen, Perry has profited from his investments in Movie Gallery, Inc—America’s largest pornography distributor—a company that profits from exploitation and violence against women. FN2.
When running for Lieutenant Governor, Rick Perry combined his publicly traded stocks into a blind trust—Perry Blind Trust, Inc. FN3. Thus, Perry’s subsequent Personal Financial Statements reveal little about his stock holdings. FN4. However, Perry’s 1995 Personal Financial Statement—the final revealing record of Perry’s assets—shows that he invested in thirty-two stocks, including Movie Gallery, Inc. FN5. While the precise amount of the investment is not revealed, Perry listed the stock in category “B”—meaning that the stock was worth between five and ten thousand dollars. FN6. Most of Perry’s stock fell into the class “B” category. FN7
Based in Dothan, Alabama, Movie Gallery boasts being the second largest North American home-entertainment specialty retailer after Blockbuster; Movie Gallery has more than 4700 stores located in all fifty states, Mexico, and Canada. FN8. Movie Gallery is also both the largest distributor of pornography in America and the only major retail chain to sell pornography in its flagship stores. FN9.
As reported in Forbes, Movie Gallery possesses a winning business model, which has allowed it to acquire the much-larger franchise Hollywood Video. FN10. Forbes reports that pornography increases Movie Gallery’s profits enough to lowball the prices on regular, non-pornographic rentals. FN11. Pornography is a unique product that many stores are reluctant to sell. Movie Gallery’s practices have forced small, locally owned rental chains out of business. FN12.
Zealously boycotted by the conservative, two-million-strong American Family Association (AFA), Movie Gallery faces two lawsuits because of its allegedly illegal business practices. FN13. Smaller competing video stores claim that Movie Gallery illegally distributes porn across state lines. FN14. Movie Gallery’s Interim Chief Financial Officer, Thomas D. Johnson, Jr., described these lawsuits as “frivolous.” FN15.
Coincidentally, Rick Perry used similar language when signing the tort-reform bill that limited the liability—thereby increasing profits—of companies like Movie Gallery. FN16. Perry said the bill would “remov[e] the incentive for trial lawyers to file frivolous lawsuits.” FN17. Continuing Perry said, “we will save thousands of jobs, generate millions in new revenue to the state;” only some of those jobs come at the price of young girl’s physical and psychological health. FN18.
The AFA has undertaken a nationwide campaign—advertising in USA Today and Washington Post—urging government officials to investigate Movie Gallery. FN19. Many local authorities—like the U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Texas—are allegedly dragging their feet. FN20. With Gov. Perry owning stock in Movie Gallery, his financial interests contravene the success of any such investigation.
Titles that Gov. Perry helps bring to Texas’ shelves include Teens with Tits Vol. 1, Teen Power Vol. 4, and Teens Never Say No. FN21. Such titles serve as political ammunition to his opponents—independents Kinky Friedman and Carol Keeton Strayhorn. Ironically, the Jewish Friedman continually caters to religious conservatives by advocating prayer in school, and Strayhorn has recently criticized the Governor over sexual abuse in Texas’ foster-care program. FN22. Rick Perry claims to be “proud of his extensive record as a pro-life, pro-family conservative,” and revelations about his pornography investments jeopardize crucial votes for this fall’s election. FN23. Rick Perry has a sizable lead over his opponents—polling at 38% to Friedman’s 20, Strayhorn’s 19, and Democrat Christopher Bell’s 14 in the most recent poll. FN24.
While many disagree over society’s correct policy towards pornography, Perry’s political posturing caters to pornography’s opponents. Duplicitously, Rick Perry’s supposed politics contravene the interests of his own pocketbook. There is the Governor who endorses a plan to monitor sex offenders with satellites; then there is businessman who enjoys profits by funding such titles as Bisexual Barebacking Vol. 1 and Big Tit Brotha Lovers 6. FN25. There is the proud husband and father who announced an award of $7.4 Million to the S.T.O.P. Violence Against Women Act programs; then there is the man who invested in North America’s largest pornography distributor. FN26. In the coming weeks, there will doubtlessly be the ignorant, apologetic Governor, but under that thin veneer of good hair is the cunning financier who still hides his assets in a blind trust fund.
1) Texans for Rick Perry, Statement by Texans for Rick Perry Spokesman Robert Black Concerning Carole Strayhorn’s Latest Effort to Exploit Child Tragedies for Political Gain, available at http://www.rickperry.org/news/display.php?id=274 (last visited June 23, 2006).
2) For studies then available to Perry that link pornography to violence, see FINAL REPORT OF THE ATT’Y GEN.’S COMM’N ON PORNOGRAPHY (1986) (U.S.); PORNOGRAPHY AND PROSTITUTION IN CAN.: REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMM. ON PORNOGRAPHY AND PROSTITUTION IN CAN.(1985); REPORT OF THE JOINT SELECT COMM. ON VIDEO MATERIAL (1988)(Austl.); Diana E.H. Russell, Pornography and Rape: A Causal Model, 9 POL. PSYCHOL. 41 (1988)(showing that pornography can cause rape via undermining inhibitions to raping and facilitating its social acceptance).
3) JAMES R. “RICK” PERRY, PERSONAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT, Part II 1 (1998)(stating “all publicly traded stock placed in Blind Trust on 9/13/96.” Id.) available at Texas State Ethics Commission * 201 East 14th St. * 10th Floor * P. O. Box 12070 * Austin, TX 78711-2070.
4) Id. (listing none of the stocks held in Blind Trust).
5) JAMES R. “RICK” PERRY, PERSONAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT, Part II 2 (1997)(showing Perry invested in Movie Gallery, Inc), available at Texas State Ethics Commission * 201 East 14th St. * 10th Floor * P. O. Box 12070 * Austin, TX 78711-2070.
6) Id. at Part IB.
7) Id. at Part II 2–4.
8) Movie Gallery, Inc. Investor Relations Home, Profile available at http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=85959&p=irol-irhome (last visited June 24, 2006).
9) Seth Lubove, Porn Gallery: The Secret to Movie Gallery’s Success, FORBES 42, Feb. 28, 2005 (noting “Movie Gallery is the last of the big chains to rent out X-rated videos (at least in stores bearing its name).” Id.).
10) Lubove, supra note 9.
12) See, e.g., Lisa Davis Allison, The Tough Tale of the Tape; Smaller Video Stores Carve Distinct Niches To Survive Competition, THE RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, E-1 (Aug. 8, 1999)(writing that: “In 1996, Movie Gallery Inc. swallowed Richmond-based chains Video World and Movie Time, taking control of 26 stores and making it the licenser of 65 independently owned shops across Virginia … Video Fan manager Louise Bach said it is difficult to compete.” Id.).
13) See Lubove, supra note 9.
15) Id.; see, Movie Gallery Appoints Thomas Johnson Interim Chief Fin. Officer, CNNMoney (June 1, 2006) available at http://money.cnn.com/services/tickerheadlines/prn/200606011215PR_NEWS_USPR_____NYTH132.htm (last visited June 24, 2006).
16) Press Release, Office of the Governor Rick Perry, Gov. Perry Signs Medical Malpractice Reform Legislation New Measures Will Help End Crisis That Threatened Texans' Access to Affordable Health Care (Jun. 11, 2003) available at http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/press/pressreleases/PressRelease.2003-06-11.3016. (last visited June 24, 2006); see Catharine A. MacKinnon, Pornography as Defamation and Discrimination 71 B.U.L. REV. 793 (1991) writing that, “Women in pornography are bound, battered, tortured, harassed, raped, and sometimes killed; or, in the glossy men's entertainment magazines, ‘merely’ humiliated, molested, objectified, and used.” Id.
17) Id. (emphasis added).
19) See Am. Family Ass’n, USA Today and Washington Post advertisements, available at http://www.afa.net/moviegallery/default.asp (last visited June 24, 2006).
20) The Politics in Porn, Who Is Responsible for Allowing All This? available at http://www.thepoliticsinporn.com./ (last visited June 24, 2006) (writing, “Government Officials who have been given the evidence of this illegal operation are … the U.S. District attys for the Northern Districts of Alabama and Texas” Id.).
21) Movie Gallery, Inc., Invoice for Movie Gallery, Inc.(Corsicana, Tex.) * 200 N 15th St * Corsicana, Tex. 75110 available at http://www.thepoliticsinporn.com./PDF/doc0_movie_gallery_invoice.pdf (last visited June 24, 2006)
22) Shelley Lubben, In Her Own Words: The Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn, Christian Broadcast Network, available at http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/thetruth_lubben.aspx (writing of her former profession, the author states: “Porn is nothing more than fake sex and lies on videotape. Trust me, I know.” Id.)(Lubben’s attitudes are demonstrative of conservative Christians.).
23) Aaron Turney, Friedman Gets Kinky at Baylor THE LARIAT ONLINE (Apr. 27, 2006), http://www.baylor.edu/Lariat/news.php?action=story&story=40471 (last visited June 24, 2006)(reporting that, “Friedman said he supports … returning prayer and the Ten Commandments to public school.” Id.); Strayhorn is a Voice for Our Forgotten Children in Foster Care Carole Keeton “One Tough Grandma” Strayhorn for Texas Governor available at http://www.carolestrayhorn.com/News/Read.aspx?ID=32 (last visited June 24, 2006).
24) Texans for Rick Perry, Stronger Families, http://www.rickperry.org/families/ (last visited June 24, 2006).
25) Texas Governor: Perry at 38%, Incumbant[sic] Dominates Four-Way Race, RASMUSSEN REPORTS (June 12, 2006), available at http://www.rasmussenreports.com/2006/State%20Polls/May%202006/TexasGovMay.htm (last visited June 24, 2006)(Scott Rasmussen was 2004’s most accurate pollster. David Kenner & William Saletan, Let's Go to the Audiotape: Who Nailed the Election Results? Automated Pollsters. SLATE (Dec. 9, 2004) available at http://www.slate.com/id/2110860/ (last visited June 24, 2006)).
26) See, e.g., supra note 25 and accompanying text.
27) Press Release, Office of the Governor Rick Perry, Governor’s Advisory Council Recommends Changes to Criminal Justice System; Proposals Include More DNA Testing, More Forensics Labs, Greater Monitoring of Sex Offenders (Feb. 7, 2006) available at http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/press/pressreleases/PressRelease.2006-02-07.5221 (last visited June 24, 2006); The Politics in Porn, Movie Gallery XXX Selection On Display 1, available at http://thepoliticsinporn.com/images/img4.jpg (CAUTION: EXPLICIT IMAGE)(last visited June 24, 2006); The Politics in Porn, Movie Gallery XXX Selection on Display 2, available at http://thepoliticsinporn.com/images/img5.jpg (CAUTION: EXPLICIT IMAGE)(last visited June 24, 2006).
28) Press Release, Office of the Governor Rick Perry, Gov. Perry Announces Award of $7.4 Million In S.T.O.P. Violence Against Women Act Programs (Sep. 24, 2004) http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/press/pressreleases/PressRelease.2004-09-24.3813/view (last visited June 24, 2006).