"All this spending is being revealed at a time when the state has looming financial problems, as in a shortfall of $11 billion."
By Jennifer Peebles
Hope you like that $700 coat rack the governor uses. After all, you paid for it.
Texas taxpayers have shelled out almost $600,000 in the past two years in rent and other living expenses for Gov. Rick Perry's mansion in West Austin. That's according to public records procured by an Associated Press reporter whose work we at Texas Watchdog follow carefully, Jay Root (he's @byjayroot on Twitter).
Along with the $700 coat rack, Root writes, there's the grand the gov (or, we assume, his wife or someone working for him) plunked down for window dressings from Neiman Marcus and $70 for two years of Food and Wine magazine.
Guess the Gov had to go with Food and Wine now that Gourmet went out of business.
The folks at Food and Wine had this to say on Twitter today
The gov has been renting a posh place for the last couple years now because the governor's mansion -- the real one -- had been overdue for an upgrade. But then someone came along and set the real governor's mansion on fire and nearly burned it down. That case still hasn't been solved, and it'll be a couple of years before the place is fixed up again.
The irony, though, is that all this spending is being revealed at a time when the state has looming financial problems -- big looming financial problems, as in a shortfall of $11 billion with a B. That number could go as high as $18 billion, the Texas Observer reported today.)
Meanwhile, back at the mansion (the rented one), the governor's office is continuing to try to withhold 10 e-mails from the AP pertaining to the rental mansion, and Root reports that payees weren't listed for $810,000 in mansion-related expenses.
From Root's story:
"These are non-taxpayer dollars that go for entertaining and various costs that a governor's residence would have," said Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner. "These are the same policies that were implemented for numerous governors before Rick Perry."
Perry's aides add the governor, who has made officeholder transparency a signature issue of his 2010 campaign, has fully complied with ethics and transparency laws that govern such spending.
Transparency issues were one of the items that were cited by the liberal watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington when it ranked Perry as one of the nation's worst governors a few weeks ago.
The Republican governor's Democratic critics have been having a field day with the story. Democratic challenger and former Houston Mayor Bill White said he would rent his own house until the governor's mansion (the real one) is repaired. And Burnt Orange Report has a video from the state Democratic Party that sets a slideshow of real estate Glamour Shots of the rental house to some swingin' '70s disco before asking why taxpayers tightening their belts should shell out for the gov's swanky digs.
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