On August 24, 2011 the New York Times reported that "There are nearly 600 boards, commissions, authorities and departments in Texas, many of which are of little use to the public and should have long been shut down or consolidated." So why do they still exist? It seems that Governor Perry has figured out how to use them to his political benefit.
"Since 2001, more than a fifth of the $83 million that Mr. Perry has raised for his gubernatorial campaigns has come from people he appointed to state boards and commissions, according to a study by Texans for Public Justice , a watchdog group." (New York Times August 24,2011)
With Governor Perry announcing his candidacy for President one has to ask two questions. One, why would someone who proclaims to hate the federal government (and even threatened secession for Texas) want to run it? And, two, can you trust someone with this kind of track record for lining the pockets of his political contributors with the billions that could be available from federal government contracts and appointments.
Sure, every politician that wins an election grants favors and offers gifts to those who got him there, those gifts often taking the form of appointments. But, Perry seems to have crafted it into an art form.
"An analysis by The New York Times found that more than a quarter of the companies that have received grants from the Texas Enterprise Fund in the last year, or their executives, had made contributions to Mr. Perry's campaigns dating back to 2001"" (New York Times)
Likewise, the Texas Emerging Technology Fund is under Perry's control. "His office makes the decision on which companies should receive the money, according to The Dallas Morning News , which found that more than $16 million had gone to campaign donors. Though he gets recommendations from an advisory committee he appoints, they are not binding. The committee operates in secret, and some of its members are also Perry contributors. " Furthermore, ""He averaged $118,000 in donations from each of his appointments to the Parks and Wildlife Commission."
The governor has long maintained that the funds given to corporations create jobs. The reviews on that are mixed as it can be difficult at best to determine whether or not a job has been created as a result of seed money receive from the state. One thing is for sure, Perry loves to use what his adversaries would call "corporate welfare" to return favors and ensure future favors and loyalty from the rich and powerful.
When his presidential campaign started talking up the "Texas Miracle", many in Texas responded with a collective "huh?" With the state treasury showing a $20 billion deficit and Texas consistently ranking near the bottom in health and education many Texas residents are wondering if that's the kind of miracle they want to see spread across the rest of the nation under a potential Perry presidency. One can only assume that the campaign is referring to the relatively good jobs picture in Texas compared to the rest of the nation, but that's not how it is presented. Detractors point to the currently healthy energy industry as the main reason for the relatively healthy economy in Texas.
With Perry quickly becoming the front-runner in the quest to become the Republican Party's nominee for president one has to wonder if his handling of the tax payer's money and the Texas treasury as if it's his own personal slush fund has been ethical or even legal. We have a little over one year to figure this out.