Saturday, February 27, 2010

98% of Rick Perry's so-called 'grassroots support' comes from big money astroturf

Perry brags about grassroots fundraising, but most money on record day came from a wealthy few


The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2010

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry bragged this week about making fundraising history in a Texas governor's race by bringing in $1.3 million in one day from grassroots support.

It turns out that most of the money came from those who own the field.

Forty-three donors provided $1 million of the total. Overall, $1.28 million came from 123 givers, including lobbyists and longtime political players, according to reports the Perry campaign filed with the Texas Ethics Commission.

The Republican governor announced the fundraising total in a news release Thursday, saying the "Money Cannon" had included "numerous Texans donating through the governor's Web site."

Perry said the "unprecedented fundraising effort combined with our solid grassroots support affirms that our message of limited government, fiscal restraint and belief in the power of the individual is what Texans look for in their elected leaders."

Mark Miner, a Perry spokesman, said that about 1,500 people provided more than $1.3 million Wednesday. He said that while there were big givers, many sent in small contributions. The campaign, in keeping with state law, provided the names and contributions of only those who gave $1,000 or more.

But it was a relative handful of the major donors who provided 98 percent of the money. They included some of the state's richest people, such as tax consultant George Ryan and investor Stevan Hammond, both of Dallas, who wrote checks for $100,000. Another $100,000 came from the North Cypress Medical Center group in Cypress.

Three oil and energy executives each gave $50,000: Rod Lewis of San Antonio, Lee Bass of Fort Worth and Jeffrey Hildebrand of Houston.

Political action committees also were among the donors, along with people who had given to Perry earlier in the campaign.

Jennifer Baker, a spokeswoman for GOP primary rival Kay Bailey Hutchison, said Perry again is misleading Texans.

"The same Rick Perry lying about his campaign contributions is the same election-year Rick that campaigns like a conservative and when elected tramples parental and property rights," Baker said, citing his now-rescinded mandate to have teenage girls receive cervical-cancer vaccines and the now-defunct Trans-Texas Corridor.

The Perry camp said the donation event did garner widespread support.

"Using the Internet and traditional fundraising methods, the Money Cannon was an extremely effective and historic day of raising contributions from people across Texas," Miner said.

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