Saturday, October 01, 2011

Perry's Transportation Commissioner, Deirdre Delisi, made false statements under oath.

"Two top Perry aides gave false testimony under oath in campaign case"


By Gaius Publius
Copyright 2011

So it begins. Rick Perry may be a fundamentalist Christian (of the New Apostolic Reformation variety), and eager executioner, and possible ground-breaking Republican candidate — but by all accounts he also deeply corrupt, a crony of the first water.

So this one could have legs. As the article notes, the aides involved are Deidre Delisi and David Carney. The former is a former chief of staff and current senior policy advisor; the later is a long-time strategist. (That's Deidre Delisi pictured in the linked story.)

Murray Waas and Peter Henderson, writing in Reuters (my emphasis):

In a civil suit later filed by Chris Bell, Perry's Democratic challenger in that race, the testimony of aides David Carney and Deirdre Delisi was directly contradicted by a sworn statement from Perry's own gubernatorial campaign committee.

At issue were the circumstances surrounding a $1 million contribution to the campaign, and whether the Republican Governors' Association, which paid out the funds, was used as a conduit to camouflage their true origin. The lawsuit alleged that the actual donor was Texas multi-millionaire Bob Perry, a long-time supporter of Rick Perry (no relation) better known for bankrolling the Swift Boat campaign that torpedoed Senator John Kerry's presidential bid.

Carney has long been the Texas governor's closest political strategist. Delisi was formerly Governor Perry's chief of staff and now serves as a senior policy advisor to his presidential campaign.
The current Perry campaign won't comment, and for an interesting reason. That earlier case was settled out of court, note the authors, in "a 2010 settlement, which required Perry to pay $427,000 to Bell's campaign, [and] barred either side from saying anything further."

So the original case was possibly corrupt to begin with (unless Perry settled and was innocent), and now we find his top aides could well have lied in giving testimony. There's certainly enough prima facie evidence to warrant an investigation.

The story is beautifully researched, and has all the mustered details we associate with the excellent Murray Waas. Please do read.

This is one to watch, not just for campaign adventure (who's leading in the back stretch, "Mittens" or "Crotch") — but also for meta reasons:

■ Will the mainstream media give him a pass, or really cover this? If so, does it mean they are on board with sinking the Perry campaign, like they did the Gore campaign?

■ Will Karl Rove & Co weigh in (they hate Perry)? If so, will that get big or small coverage?

■ Finally, if Rove does weigh in, does that drive a larger MSM coverage (because, well "1 Live Crew" and all)?

Will John and Marsha (sorry, Rick and Karl) ever find true happiness? Stay tuned.

© 2011 AMERICAblog:

Did Rick Perry aides give misleading testimony?


By Brian Montopoli
CBS News
Copyright 2011

A Reuters report out Wednesday is raising questions about whether aides to Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry - among them his political guru, David Carney - made false or misleading statements under oath.

The charge is grounded in alleged contradictions found in sworn statements by Perry's aides and a statement from Perry's gubernatorial campaign committee.

Here are the basics, according to the Reuters report: After Perry was re-elected Texas governor in 2006, his Democratic challenger, Chris Bell, filed a civil suit tied to a $1 million contribution to the Perry campaign. Bell alleged, among other things, that the Republican Governors' Association was used to hide the fact that the money came from Texas multimillionaire Bob Perry, a longtime supporter of Perry, in violation of state campaign finance law. (The two men are not related.)

In 2010, the Perry team settled the case, paying $427,000 to the Bell campaign. The settlement barred the parties from discussing the case publicly. But depositions from the lawsuit reportedly show that while Carney and Perry's former chief of staff Deirdre Delisi - who is now a senior adviser to his presidential campaign - testified they had virtually no contact with the Republican Governors Association over fundraising during the 2006 campaign. Perry's campaign committee, however, swore in a statement that the two aides met with Mitt Romney - then the head of the RGA - in October 2006 to discuss a late contribution to Perry's campaign.

Evidence in the lawsuit suggests that Carney and Delisi met with Romney on October 4. Two days later, Bob Perry donated $1 million to the RGA. Then, on October 27, the RGA cut the first of a pair of checks to the Rick Perry campaign. Bob Perry would go on to donate another $500,000 to the RGA on October 30th, and the RGA would give Perry a check for that amount two days later. The late infusion of cash shortly before Election Day was credited with helping Perry fend off a late challenge from Bell.

Bell also sued the RGA, and was awarded $2 million for campaign finance violations - though the award was not specifically tied to the alleged use of the RGA to illegally funnel a $1 million contribution from Bob Kerry. The RGA is currently appealing the ruling.

Perry's campaign isn't commenting on the matter, pointing the fact that the settlement barred further discussion of the case.

© 2011 CBS News:

Perry aides told different stories in lawsuit
Dave Carney


By Murray Waas and Peter Henderson
Copyright 2011

Contradictions in sworn statements about Rick Perry's fundraising for his 2006 reelection bid raise questions about whether aides to the Texas governor, who is now running for president, gave false or misleading testimony under oath.

In a civil suit later filed by Chris Bell, Perry's Democratic challenger in that race, the testimony of aides David Carney and Deirdre Delisi was directly contradicted by a sworn statement from Perry's own gubernatorial campaign committee.

At issue were the circumstances surrounding a $1 million contribution to the campaign, and whether the Republican Governors' Association, which paid out the funds, was used as a conduit to camouflage their true origin. The lawsuit alleged that the actual donor was Texas multi-millionaire Bob Perry, a long-time supporter of Rick Perry (no relation) better known for bankrolling the Swift Boat campaign that torpedoed Senator John Kerry's presidential bid.

Carney has long been the Texas governor's closest political strategist. Delisi was formerly Governor Perry's chief of staff and now serves as a senior policy advisor to his presidential campaign.

Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner declined to comment on anything regarding the legal case, saying that a 2010 settlement, which required Perry to pay $427,000 to Bell's campaign, barred either side from saying anything further. It also diminished the chance of any further legal action against Carney and Delisi if, in fact, they gave false or misleading testimony in the case.

Prior to the case being settled, only a few pages of the aides' testimony had been entered into the trial court record. The complete depositions have since been seen by Reuters.


Bell's lawsuit alleged that Perry and the Republican Governors Association (RGA) violated the state's campaign finance laws. Discovery in the civil action examined the circumstances under which the RGA gave a last-minute $1 million contribution to Perry as the race suddenly tightened. Bell alleged the governor's reelection campaign, Texans for Perry (TFP), and the RGA collaborated to disguise the fact that this donation came from Bob Perry. Bell also asserted that this arrangement was discussed in an October meeting between Carney, Delisi and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. At the time Romney, who is now Perry's rival for the presidential nomination, was chairman of the RGA.

Delisi testified that she had no contact with the RGA about fundraising during the 2006 campaign. Carney testified about only one pitch for money from the RGA and made no mention of the meeting with Romney.

But the sworn statement by Perry's own campaign committee said that Delisi and Carney met with Romney in Washington D.C. on October 4, 2006, to discuss a last-minute contribution. Governor Romney was never deposed and did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

Texans for Rick Perry opted last year to settle the case. The RGA refused to settle, and on August 31, 2010, Texas state judge John K. Dietz of Travis County awarded Bell $2 million, ruling that the RGA had violated state campaign finance law by failing to register as a political committee and not reporting the Perry contribution until after the election. A spokesman for the RGA, Mike Schrimpf, told Reuters: "The RGA is appealing the decision."

The Texas court did not rule on whether the $1 million RGA gave to Rick Perry's campaign was a disguised contribution from Bob Perry. TRP and the RGA denied that this was the case in statements to the court. Bob Perry said in sworn testimony that he had not spoken with Rick Perry's campaign staff.


Over the years Bob Perry and his wife have given more than $2.5 million to Rick Perry's various campaign.

Another large, direct contribution to the governor's reelection bid would not have been illegal - Texas campaign laws put no limit on individual donations - but it might have looked unseemly at a time when Rick Perry was lambasting Bell for taking $1 million from a single wealthy donor.

Documents and testimony from the lawsuit established the following:

* On October 4, 2006, Carney and Delisi met with RGA chairman Mitt Romney in Washington about the need for campaign cash, according to the Perry campaign statement.

* On October 6 of that year Bob Perry made a $1 million contribution to the RGA.

* On October 27 the RGA cut the first of two $500,000 checks to Texans for Perry.

* On October 30 Bob Perry donated another $500,000 to the RGA, and another $50,000 the next day.

* On November 1 Phil Musser, executive director of the RGA, personally handed over a second $500,000 check to Rick Perry in the RGA's Washington offices.

* On Nov 2, Rick Perry defeated Bell and two independent candidates, winning reelection with 39 percent of the vote.

The campaign's statement to the court said that when Delisi and Carney met with Mitt Romney on October 4 they were told that the RGA was about to receive $1 million from a Texas donor. "Gov. Romney did not identify who the individual was, and TRP had no knowledge prior to that time that any individual was planning to contribute $1 million to the RGA," the statement said. According to this document, it was only later that "Delisi connected with Bob Perry's attorney Buddy Jones to ask whether Mr. Perry had contributed money to the RGA." When Jones confirmed it, the statement continued, "Delisi asked Mr. Jones to encourage the RGA to make some contributions in Texas since the RGA raised such significant funds in Texas."

Mr. Jones declined to comment.

The statement also said that Carney had multiple conversations with the RGA, requesting $1 million and then a second $1 million. "Toward the end of the campaign, Mr. Carney asked the RGA if it would contribute an additional $1 million for a total of $2 million," it said.

These statements contradict Delisi's and Carney's own testimony.


"When you were performing some campaign activities for the 2006 Perry campaign, did you interact in any way with the Republican Governors' Association?" Delisi was asked in her January 8, 2009 deposition.

"No," she answered, then added that she had been in contact with the RGA over scheduling some events.

"Were you involved in any way with soliciting any contributions made totaling a million dollars?" the lawyer added.

"No," Delisi replied.

Delisi was then asked: "Are you familiar with anyone - do you know anyone who - that was involved in soliciting contributions from RGA to the Perry campaign in 2006, in - excuse me, in October 2006?"

"Yes. Toward the end of the campaign Dave Carney had conversations with the RGA about financial support as had been previously discussed earlier in the year."

Delisi said she didn't know whether anyone else in the campaign had contacts with the RGA.

Carney's January 28, 2009 deposition painted a more muddled picture of the campaign's interactions with the RGA. When he first asked the RGA for money, he said, "they laughed," because Governor Perry appeared to be holding a comfortable lead. Carney described an early-race strategy of asking for funds just in case the RGA ended up with extra cash, but he did not recall the date of the conversation and said it could have been as late as October, the month before the vote.

"(D)id you follow up on your request to the RGA after you asked them for the $2 million?" he was asked later in the deposition.

"I don't think so," Carney responded.

Asked about his knowledge of the late, $1 million contribution, Carney claimed ignorance.

"Did you ever know what they committed to give?"

The RGA's executive director, Phil Musser "told me they were going to give us a million dollars," Carney said, adding later that he learned of the contribution by seeing $1 million show up in campaign cash reports, rather than hearing at the time about the two $500,000 checks.

Asked when he became aware of those payments, Carney said, "I'm not sure. I honestly don't know when it was."

And Perry's settling the lawsuit before launching his presidential bid will likely forestall any further investigation of the matter.

(Editing by Lee Aitken and Michael Williams)

© 2011 Reuters:

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Now we have two Perry political hacks running the highway department."

Perry’s pay-to-play on display in choice to head TxDOT


By Terri Hall
Copyright 2011

Today, the Texas Transportation Commission announced the new Executive Director to head the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), former Secretary of State Phil Wilson. Wilson was also Governor Rick Perry’s designee for two of his corporate slush funds, the Texas Enterprise Fund and Emerging Technology Fund at that time. Wilson stepped down from Secretary of State in 2008 to become a lobbyist for Luminant, whose parent company is Energy Future Holdings Corp. (formerly TXU Corp.). Wilson also formerly served as Perry’s Chief of Staff and Communications Director.

Now we have two Perry political hacks running the highway department, one of the most criticized and broken state agencies in Texas. When Perry tapped Deidre Delisi to head the Transportation Commission in 2008, the move was highly criticized by many in the Texas Legislature. The Senate Transportation Committee Chair at the time, John Carona (R - Dallas), called Delisi a “political hack" with ZERO transportation experience. The same could be said of Wilson. Ultimately, Carona backed down when he got Perry to appoint Bill Meadows, former Board member of the North Texas Tollway Authority, to the Commission.

Flaming pay-to-play cronyism on display

The Transportation Commission wasted taxpayer money hiring Grant Cooper & Associates, an executive search firm based in St. Louis, Mo., to conduct a national search for a new director only to have Perry choose a crony from within Texas. Wilson’s former employer donated over $1 million to Perry through the Republican Governor’s Association when Perry chaired it. This newly released Texans for Public Justice report shows how Energy Future Holdings Corp. benefited directly with Perry appointing Wilson to five (now six) different state posts and four other employees snagging five state appointments in return for its generous donations.

For the first time, TxDOT will not be managed by a professional engineer, but rather a former politician and puppet of the governor. To add insult to injury, Wilson will be paid fully $100,000 more per year, totaling $292,000, than his predecessor (who was a professional engineer, not a former lobbyist). The 628-page management audit done by Grant Thornton recommended new leadership at the top of the troubled agency due to its entrenched culture. It said: “TxDOT has significant leadership issues that impair staff and management effectiveness and morale.” The report also reveals: “Conversations with TxDOTʼs senior leaders reveal a deep-seated belief that TxDOT is doing all the right things and that criticisms leveled against the organization will decline when TxDOT is better able to demonstrate to people how right the organization is.”

The Sunset Advisory Commission also issued two scathing reviews of TxDOT and recommended the Transportation Commission be abolished. Perry’s choice of Wilson is a slap in the face to the sunset review process and will do nothing to convince the skeptical public that this agency’s waste, fraud, and abuse has been put behind them.

The Sunset Advisory Commission report from 2009 states: “Many expressed concerns that TxDOT was 'out of control,' advancing its own agenda against objections of both the Legislature and the public. Sunset staff found that this atmosphere of distrust permeated most of TxDOT’s actions and determined that it could not be an effective state transportation agency if trust and confidence were not restored. Significant changes are needed to begin this restoration; tweaking the status quo is simply not enough.”

Well, the appointment of Wilson is not only a move to keep the status quo, it reeks of cronyism and puts Perry’s pay-to-play cronyism on display for the national stage. Texas transportation will no more be fixed under this new regime than the old one, and likely will only get worse for taxpayers, for transparency, and for accountability.

A new, much darker era at Perry’s highway department begins....

© 2011

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Texas-Sized Irony: "The motley crew that assembled to take down Rick Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor might be seen as the Tea Party's beginnings."

Rick Perry’s Trans-Texas Corridor Problem


By Matt Dellinger
Transportation Nation
Copyright 2011

For Texas Governor Rick Perry, Republican Primary debates have been a little rocky. So far he’s been made to answer for mandating an HPV vaccine, and for granting undocumented immigrants in-state tuition breaks. Equally vexing for Perry may be the Corridor question, which will require the same difficult maneuvering between the choices he made as governor of a large, diverse state, and the the choices that appeal to Republican primary voters whose appetite for big government, or any kind of government, is at one of its lowest points in modern history.

Eventually, Perry will be asked to defend his Trans-Texas Corridor program, an infrastructure initiative that was expensive, disruptive to private property, and proposed at least partly in the name of facilitating NAFTA trade (though not, as some protesters would have it, part of a plot to dissolve America’s borders).
Perry may succeed in demonizing the federal government in cheering for states’ rights, but he may have to defend criticism that he ran his state (which likes to think of itself as a nation) in a manner that threatened local decision-making just the same.

Perry first floated his Texas-sized transportation plan in 2002, during his first campaign for Governor (he had already ascended to the position in 2000 with the departure of Governor George W. Bush to the White House). The Corridor was “the largest engineering project ever proposed for Texas, a world-class concept,” a now-infamous report (pdf) explained. “The Trans Texas Corridor is an all-Texas transportation network of corridors up to 1,200 feet wide.” The criss-crossing network, totaling 4,000 miles, “will include separate highway lanes for passenger vehicles and trucks, high-speed passenger rail and commuter and freight rail. The corridor also will have a dedicated utility zone.”

The TTC, as it came to be known, was Perry’s and his Department of Transportation’s answer to the challenges of a growing state economy. Following its cover page, the report offered an epigraph quoting Sam Houston, who, as a U.S. Senator in 1852, said that Transportation was “of vital importance, and we must all lay our hands to it as a great and mighty work of national interest and concernment, divested of everything sectional or local in its character. If its accomplishment is to be secured, it must be done with united hands and united hearts, with reference alone to the public good and its accomplishment on the most reasonable terms that the national resources will justify.”

It was the “divested of everything sectional or local” part of this mission statement that caused Perry the most trouble. The Trans-Texas Corridor would cost an estimated $183.5 Billion, TxDOT’s report said, but the proposal included changes to state law that would encourage the private sector to undertake these costs and, in return, to make a profit from tolling the corridors and building any number of service facilities along them. The necessary enabling legislation sailed through in 2003, while the state capitol was distracted by a battle over redistricting. Evidently, few legislators knew what the bill contained. By the time TxDOT began holding public meetings about the Corridor, in early 2004, the sudden possibility that private companies, some of them foreign, might exercise eminent domain to build huge swaths of infrastructure for profit took voters by surprise. Local county toll authorities in Dallas and Houston began complaining that the state was bullying them into contracts with private companies, and voters began pressuring their legislators to repeal the law that made those contracts possible.

Perry had installed his friend and fellow former legislator Ric Williamson as Chair of the Texas Transportation Commission, and Williamson (now deceased) took the kind of straight-talk, tough-love approach to transportation policy that Perry now seems to be taking on Social Security. The gas-tax system wasn’t sustainable, and people needed to know it. Williamson didn’t refer to public highway funding as a “ponzi scheme,” but he did tour the state telling local officials that they had to choose between “toll roads, slow roads, or no roads.” “There is no road fairy,” both men were fond of saying.

The public didn’t much enjoy the Perry Administration’s approach. David and Linda Stall, two citizens from Fayetteville, formed an online group called CorridorWatch and held a series of meetings across the state to educate the public on the details of the plan. They succeeded in whipping up outrage that at times exceeded their own: Their public appearances became rallying points for a new coalition of rural landowners, anti-“North American Union” conspiracy theorists, Ron Paul supporters, and members of the John Birch Society. The next session of the semi-annual state legislature, in 2005, was dominated by efforts to repeal the Corridor plan (which was laid to its final rest this year). State legislators, who were complicit in passing enabling legislation if not in setting the my-way-or-the-highway tone of Perry’s policy, neutered the Governor’s transportation agenda and humbled TxDOT. In the next gubernatorial election, in 2006, Perry’s unpopularity inspired independent challenges by Kinky Friedman and Carol Keeton Strayhorn (who as state comptroller had fought the Corridor), but in the end Perry won a plurality of just 39%.

Though Perry has come to embrace—and be embraced by—the conservative Tea Party movement, the motley crew that assembled to take down the Trans-Texas Corridor might be seen as its beginnings. (In fact, there were local anti-corridor groups that called themselves the Austin Toll Party and the San Antonio Toll Party.) For those who object to top-down transportation planning in America, Perry’s performance in Texas raises the question of whether starving the federal program might only multiply the problem by fifty.

Candidate Perry has yet to articulate his current vision for transportation in America, but it would seem he’s equipped to do so: His campaign’s policy and strategy director is Deidre Delisi, Perry’s former chief of staff whom he appointed as chair of the Texas Transportation Commission in 2008, after Williamson’s death. As chair (a five-year appointment) Delisi has presided over the dismantling of the Trans-Texas Corridor effort and the creation of a kinder, gentler TxDOT more committed to honoring local input.

Back in February 2005, the Governor seemed receptive to raising his state’s gasoline tax by pegging it to inflation. Evoking Sam Houston’s rousing call to pursue “a great and mighty work of national interest” would seem to suggest Perry shares with President Obama an appetite for big, bold infrastructure building. He clearly believes, or once did, that the transportation system could use a heavy dose of additional investment—across multiple modes.

On the other hand, in 2009, he spoke out vehemently against federal stimulus, and even mused aloud that the “federal budget mess” might inspire Texans to secede from the union. According to Perry, when Texas joined the United States in 1845, he said, “one of the deals was we can leave anytime we want. So we’re kinda thinking about that again.”

Perry had his state history a little wrong. The annexation treaty did not allow for secession. It allowed Texas, if it later chose, to split into four different states—something which the local city-states of Dallas and Houston, who felt manhandled by Perry, might have longed for back in 2004.

© 2011 Transportation Nation:

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