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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Rick Perry: Governor for Sale

by Katrina vanden Heuvel , The Nation, August 23, 2011
There’s a saying in Texas when someone has the swagger of success without the accomplishments to back it up: He’s all hat and no cattle. Put another way: he’s acting like Texas Governor Rick Perry (R). Perry has been elected governor three times and has proclaimed his state a model worth replicating at the national level. Yet Texas has the highest number of residents without health insurance in the nation, among the worst-ranked food stamp programs, one of the highest child poverty rates, the lowest percentage of residents with a high school diploma and one of the highest teenage birth rates. These are stats that deserve swears, not swagger. Texas’s political system is also as brazenly capable of corruption by money and special interests as that in Washington, and unabashedly so. Long before the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United allowed unlimited contributions to begin flowing into national super PACs, Texas had some of the most lax campaign finance laws anywhere. At the state level, there are no limits on the amount of money individuals can contribute to candidates, allowing wealthy donors to directly bankroll campaigns. In such an environment, Rick Perry didn’t just survive, he flourished. He didn’t just embrace the system, he shattered records with it, raising more than anyone in Texas history. Indeed, for as long as Perry has been governor, the governor’s mansion has been ostensibly for sale. Consider the numbers: Throughout his campaigns for governor, Perry raised $102 million, half of which came from just 204 sources. According to the Los Angeles Times, nearly half of those donors have received tax breaks, appointments or large business contracts. Half have received payments from two funds, sponsored by Perry, to funnel tax dollars to private business.

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