Friday, August 21, 2009

Perry's Porky Patronage Payola: If the mask fits, wear it

Big Perry supporter benefits from bailout



Wayne Slater/Reporter
The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2009

Gov. Rick Perry's efforts to disrupt challenger Kay Bailey Hutchison's announcement tour have included a billboard-sided truck announcing the "Kay Bailout Express. " In Austin, Perry supporters wore pig masks and handed out "Kay Bailey bailout bucks." Perry is confident his supporters don't like Hutchison's vote last year for the initial financial bailout sought by the Bush administration.

But not some of the monied interests that are part of Perry's team.

One of Perry's biggest political backers - Austin banker James Huffines - got nearly $88 million in the payout to save banks and Wall Street. Huffines is president of Plains National Bank Financial and executive vice president of the bank's holding company, Plains Capital Corp. He's a top Perry fundraiser and a member of Perry's political "kitchen cabinet" of advisers.

Plains Financial got $87.6 million last December. According to federal documents, the bank has yet to repay the money to the federal government. Huffines is long-time Perry supporter - he guided his transition and first inauguration and headed Perry's 2002 reelection fundraising. Perry gave him a plum appointment to the University of Texas Board of Regents.

Huffines is not the only Republican - and Perry supporter - to embrace federal bailouts. Many GOP members of the Legislature voted to accept $16 billion in federal stimulus money to balance the Texas state budget.

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