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Did Perry contributor earmark contribution?

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Well-known member
Sep 3, 2005
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Did Perry contributor earmark contribution?


Updated 01:50 p.m., Saturday, September 3, 2011

It's been widely reported that since Rick Perry became governor, Houston homebuilder Bob Perry has given him more than $2.5 million in campaign contributions.

But now, filings in a lawsuit over the 2006 governor's race suggest that the Houstonian's largesse has been considerably more impressive than the governor's campaign contributions reports indicate.

Call it the $1 million question.

In the final weeks of the 2006 gubernatorial campaign, Perry campaign gurus got nervous about their position in an unpredictable field. After all, the governor faced not just a Democrat - Houston attorney Chris Bell - but independent candidates Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn. Humorist Friedman gave Perry a huge gift by siphoning votes from Bell.

But Perry campaign consultant Dave Carney decided to deliver a knockout punch to the Democrat - and he did, with a tough television ad slamming Bell for accepting $1 million in contributions from Houston trial lawyer John O'Quinn.

"Sharks are circling," it said, playing on the public's contempt of plaintiffs' lawyers.

Carney then turned to the Republican Governors Association for an infusion of funds, but the bean-counters there protested that they hadn't budgeted any money for the Texas governor's race.

In one of life's delicious ironies, a decision on the Perry campaign's plea for cash fell to none other than Mitt Romney, then-governor of Massachusetts and chairman of the RGA. So Carney and Perry aide Dierdre Delisi, now chairwoman of the Texas Transportation Commission, decided to pay him a visit. In documents filed in the Bell lawsuit, attorneys for the Perry campaign described what happened next:

"On Oct. 4, 2006, Dierdre Delisi and Dave Carney met with Mitt Romney, who was then chairman of the RGA. During that meeting, Gov. Romney stated that, on behalf of the RGA, he was about to accept a $1 million contribution from an individual Texan contributor. Gov. Romney did not identify who the individual was, and TRP had no knowledge prior to that time that any individual was planning to contribute $1 million to the RGA. Following the meeting with Gov. Romney, Ms. Delisi contacted Bob Perry's attorney Buddy Jones to ask whether Mr. Perry had contributed this money to the RGA. Mr. Jones ultimately confirmed that Mr. Perry had indeed made the contribution, and Ms. Delisi asked Mr. Jones to encourage the RGA to make some contributions in Texas since the RGA had raised such significant funds in Texas."

The Perry campaign then received two $500,000 checks from the RGA: on Oct. 27 and Nov. 1.

Earmark denials

Contacted through a spokesman, Jones said Friday that "Bob Perry never contacted the RGA to ask for his contributions to be … earmarked. Perry is a longtime donor to many GOP causes, including the RGA, and trusts those candidates and organizations to make their own decisions about allocating resources." Delisi didn't respond to phone calls; Carney declined comment.

A spokesman for the Republican Governors Association has said that the group has a strict policy in not allowing donors to earmark their contributions for certain candidates. As Craig Holman, a campaign finance expert at the Washington, D.C.-based Public Citizen told me, earmarking would violate both state and federal laws against laundering money.

"It calls into question whether there is an intent to evade disclosure," he noted.

A little hypocritical

Did Delisi's phone call to Jones amount to pressure to earmark a contribution?

"The Texas Ethics Commission reviewed the issues surrounding the 2006 RGA contribution and did not find any violations," Perry spokesman Mark Miner said in an email.

But that's not exactly true, according to a TEC spokesman. The ethics commission reviewed a peripheral issue - the Perry campaign's failure to disclose the RGA's contributors. Since the Perry campaign corrected its filing in a timely manner, the ethics commission waived a fine. It did not investigate further "issues" surrounding the contribution. (The Perry campaign settled the lawsuit with Bell for $427,000, and the RGA is appealing a $2 million judgement against it.)

Why launder money when Texas allows contributions of any size? Given the theme of the television assault against Bell, accepting a direct $1 million contribution from Bob Perry would have seemed a little hypocritical. Not to mention, Gov. Perry already had ignited a firestorm of protest in 2005 when he appointed Perry Homes' general counsel to the ill-conceived and (mercifully) short-lived Texas Residential Construction Commission.

Democrats, of course, are not immune from large donors; Houston trial lawyers Steve and Amber Mostyn gave $8.8 million to candidates and political action committees during the 2010 election cycle.

No man is island

Now, Perry's presidential campaign will benefit from the recent establishment of three Super PACS, new entities that can legally raise as much as money as possible, so long as they operate independently from the candidates they support. Does the 2006 incident foreshadow how well he Perry presidential campaign will keep a safe distance? This much we know: One Super PAC has been established by Mike Toomey, a former Perry chief of staff, who owns a private island off the coast of New Hampshire. His co-owner? Carney, who still serves as Perry's chief political consultant.

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Nov 12, 2006
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Every one enjoy the holiday. if any one hears from Flounder wish him the same

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