July 16, 2004
Keeping your friends close

You know, the truly beautiful thing about throwing a couple hundred thousand poor children off of the state's health insurance program is that it helps free up the cash needed to hire your buddy's wife to the vital position of state fitness promoter.

State health officials, at Gov. Rick Perry's request, created a $40,000 fitness-promotion job for the wife of a top-dollar lobbyist with close ties to the governor.

Martha "Marty" McCartt began directing Perry's physical fitness brainchild, the once-a-year Texas Round-up festival, at the Texas Department of Health on July 1, according to an employment document created Wednesday. The Houston Chronicle had requested the document from the agency the same day.

McCartt, formerly a volunteer in the fitness program at the governor's office, will now work from her Austin home 30 hours a week and get a salary, said Texas Department of Health spokesman Doug McBride.

The job, planning a 10-kilometer run and annual spring fitness festival in which Texas communities compete, was not posted or advertised as normally required for state jobs at that level, Health Department records obtained by the Chronicle show. Instead, agency officials received a waiver of that requirement from Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins, who reports directly to Perry, McBride said.

The new employee is married to J. McCartt, treasurer of a political action committee that in 2001 successfully pushed a constitutional amendment to finance highway construction through the Texas Mobility Fund. The fund, a massive highway bond program voters approved, was a Perry priority.

J. McCartt also worked as an aide to Perry when Perry was lieutenant governor. In 2003, J. McCartt was the 33rd highest paid lobbyist in Texas, with contracts worth up to $1.29 million, according to Texans for Public Justice, a liberal government watchdog group.

What can I say? Res ipso loquitor pretty much sums it up. Over to you, Carole.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 16, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack

You might also note that it's a little strange that a health promotion campaign would choose the likes of Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, and Wendy's as sponsors. I like beer as much as any other Texan but pretending that Michelob Ultra is part of a healthy diet is a joke.


Posted by: sarah on July 16, 2004 12:44 PM

This little episode actually restores some of my faith in our Governor. I'd begun to think he was just another right-wing religious nutcase like most of his supporters. Now I've come to understand that he isn't above a little corruption. Giving a cushy, work-at-home job to a lobbyist's wife, while laying off state employees....now THAT is a true blue Republican.

Posted by: Dennis on July 17, 2004 4:35 AM