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.