The Hightower Report: Perry's Mess
Rick Perry's got himself into a jam with the law, but fret not, he's got taxpayers' dollars to cover his attorney fees
Gosh, the 2016 presidential primaries are a long way off, but look out – here comes Rick Perry of Texas, riding his state's taxpayer dollars into the GOP primary.
Technically, he's not campaigning. Yet he's popping up in places from New York to California, holding press conferences, running TV ads, meeting with money people, and telling everyone how terrific he is. In other words: campaigning.
Officially, his cross-country ramble is meant to promote Texas as a corporate utopia that offers state subsidies, zero income taxes, low wages, hands-off regulation, and other cushy deals for corporations that relocate to the Lone Star State. It's a hustle that glorifies Perry, even though he's using Texas tax dollars to take good-paying jobs from the places he visits and turn them into poor-paying jobs in his state.
But the governor is used to tapping the public treasury to feather his own nest – and he has recently tapped it again to the tune of $450/hour. That's for a high-dollar lawyer he's hired at taxpayer expense to try to save his bacon – and his presidential fantasies. He doesn't mention it on his out-of-state Praise Perry tour, but he's presently on the brink of being indicted for corruption back home.
This mess involves the governor's clumsy attempt to stop an investigation by the state's ethics office into one of his pet slush funds that funneled taxpayer money to his corporate campaign donors. Last year, using a personal lapse by the director of the ethics office as an excuse, Perry simply vetoed the office's entire funding. No office, no investigation, no problem!
Clever, huh? Except that other funding was made available, so that investigation continues. And then a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate Perry's ham-handed veto, so now his indictment looms. This could take the wheels off his roadshow.