November 26, 2007
"No ducking truth behind Perry's gift"

From the weekend, the Statesman lays out the issue of Rick Perry's RGA troubles.

Even by Texas standards, the Republican Governors Association's argument that it isn't a political committee is absurd. Not only absurd, it's obscene.

Just before last year's election, the association gave Gov. Rick Perry $1 million in his hard-fought bid for re-election. But the group didn't report the donation to the Texas Ethics Commission as required under Texas law. And Perry didn't list the individual donors behind the large gift.

Turns out that most of that money came from controversial Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who has had his fingers in a lot of GOP fundraising pies in recent years. Bob Perry's money was behind the scurrilous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth political ads that undercut Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry in 2004.

Now the governor is saying that concealing Bob Perry's name was an oversight, a clerical error. And the Republican Governors Association is saying it isn't a political committee, so it didn't have to disclose the donors. Sorry, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

This year-old episode not only quacks, it stinks. And Travis County Attorney David Escamilla is reviewing the circumstances of the two $500,000 contributions dumped into Perry's treasury in the final two weeks of the campaign.


In addition to a possible $2 million penalty, the candidate accepting the money also could be guilty of a criminal misdemeanor. That is a heavy weight hanging over Perry's head.

More bizarre still is the Republican Governors Association's argument that, although it raises and donates money to GOP candidates, it isn't a political committee. The law isn't precise in its definition, says Ben Ginsberg, the association's attorney.

He argues that Texas law wasn't properly crafted to include every entity that might contribute to a candidate. If the law is so flawed that a political committee that gives $1 million to a candidate for governor isn't defined as a political committee, then that law needs a serious overhaul.

The courts aren't likely to agree with Ginsberg and the governors association. Indeed, if the Republican Governors Association isn't a political committee when it contributes to candidates, then nothing is. And millions in secret donations can flood Texas elections.

This has the potential to be all kinds of fun. I'll be keeping an eye on it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 26, 2007 to Election 2006