In Texas political patronage is big business.
Non-profit group says individuals and their families raised $3.8 million over past 5 years
April 11, 2006
By JANET ELLIOTT, Austin Bureau
AUSTIN - One-third of Gov. Rick Perry's appointees to state agencies, boards and commissions have been campaign donors to the governor, raising along with their families a total of $3.8 million over the past five years, according to a report released Monday.
Perry's appointees gave an average of $3,769 apiece to his campaign, with appointees to university governing boards among the most generous donors. Educational appointees averaged $10,616.
Women received 38 percent of the appointments, with the average female appointee giving Perry $1,762, compared with the male average of $4,476.
Texans for Public Justice said its report is the first comprehensive analysis of campaign contributions by gubernatorial appointees in Texas. The group said Perry's predecessors also favored big donors with plum appointments.
"Political patronage is big business," said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice. "The huge overlap between gubernatorial contributors and appointees strongly suggests that Gov. Perry has an affirmative-action program for wealthy donors."
The report said the timing of the contributions varied, with some arriving in advance of the appointment and some after the fact, with many donating before and after.
"The governor appoints good capable men and women, who share his philosophy and his principles, to boards and commissions in state government," said Robert Black, a spokesman for Perry's campaign.
Black criticized Texans for Public Justice for not disclosing its donors, saying the group has a "liberal anti-Republican" bias.
Andrew Wheat, research director for TPJ, said the nonprofit group has issued reports on campaign contributions of public officials from both major parties. He said the group exercises its constitutional right not to disclose its donors.
"If people didn't have protection against exposure of their contributions, they might be intimidated from contributing to a hard-hitting organization such as ours," Wheat said.
Texas Tech University regent Larry Anders, who heads Plano-based life insurer Summit Alliance Cos., was Perry's largest donor among appointees at $220,304.
Three other regents made six-figure donations to Perry's campaign, including University of Texas regent Robert Rowling ($207,262); Texas Tech regent J. Frank Miller III ($175,000) and Texas A&M regent Erle Nye ($131,000).
None of the regents was available for comment.
James Huffines, chairman of the regents board at UT, questioned the group for counting large donations that his father made to Perry to reach a total of $122,180. Huffines, president of PlainsCapital Bank in Austin, gave less than $4,000 of that amount.
Huffines said he has no control over his 83-year-old father, adding that he is "a big Aggie to say the least." Perry is a graduate of A&M.
Wheat said he thinks it's valid to include family members when calculating donations. He offered to clarify in the report that the elder Huffines made most of the donations.
Friends and family
Perry tapped 1,027 appointees to serve on 235 state agencies, boards and commissions between Dec. 5, 2002, and Feb. 22, 2006. Between January 2000 and December 2005, Perry received a total of $3.8 million from 220 of these appointees or their family members.
Perry's campaign took in another $3.1 million during the same period from sources affiliated with his appointees' employers. The largest amount came from Perry Homes founder, Bob Perry, who is no relation to the governor but is one of his largest contributors. Perry Homes attorney John Krugh was named to the Residential Construction Commission, an agency that handles disputes involving homebuilders.
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