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Perry’s rental crib

This AP story about the Governor’s rented mansion is certainly entertaining.

With the state facing a budget shortfall of at least $11 billion, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has spent almost $600,000 in public money during the past two years to live in a sprawling rental home in the hills above the capital, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

It costs more than $10,000 a month in rent, utilities and upkeep to house Perry in a five-bedroom, seven-bath mansion that has pecan-wood floors, a gourmet kitchen and three dining rooms. Perry has also spent $130,000 in campaign donations to throw parties, buy food and drink, and pay for cable TV and a host of other services since he moved in, the records show.

The public spending on Perry’s rental comes as the state grapples with a budget shortfall forecast to reach at least $11 billion over the next two years. Perry has asked state agencies to cut their budgets by 5 percent and the Republican House speaker has begun to consider furloughs and shortened workweeks for state employees.

I think we all agree that I’m not a Rick Perry fan, but let’s try to maintain some perspective. In the context of the state budget, this doesn’t even qualify as a drop in the bucket. (I had the same complaint about a Chron article about the spending behavior of Houston City Council members.) Look, the official Governor’s Mansion is undergoing reconstruction after that tragic arson fire from a few years ago. Perry’s gotta live somewhere, and wherever that is will be on the taxpayers’ dime, as it should be. I don’t expect him to shack up in some garage apartment. Yeah, he could have found cheaper digs, but the swankienda he is inhabiting isn’t the cause of the state’s budget woes. Don’t get me wrong, Rick Perry is directly responsible for a big chunk of the deficit we currently face. It’s just not because of where he’s hanging his coyote gun.

Now having said that, you’d think a guy who’s demanded across-the-board budget reductions from every state department might want to show a little leadership on the issue and not be so ostentatious in his lifestyle. I mean seriously, a thousand bucks for an “emergency repair” of the Governor’s filtered ice machine? What, is he too delicate to use ice from unfiltered water? You can buy a pretty decent fridge for a thousand bucks these days; they might have even been able to get one of those cash-for-clunkers rebates for the old appliance. You’ve got to figure that every state employee who’s had to get by on less is a teeny bit resentful about this. The inevitable attack ad writes itself, too.

We should be more concerned about this:

For the 28 months from September 2007 through the end of 2009, the campaign-funded “Mansion Fund” has incurred costs of over $130,000, including more than $56,000 for food and beverages. Thousands more were spent on flowers, tent set-ups and other rentals, the cable bill, invitations and unspecified “services.”

That spending tops more than $810,000 in all since Perry took office in 2001.


Perry’s state disclosure reports describe the $810,000 directed to the “Mansion Fund” generically as “Mansion Expenditures,” despite state requirements that recipients of political dollars be listed by name along with a description of the goods or services they provide.

There’s a reason we the people normally pay for the Governor’s living expenses: It’s not a hot idea to let a bunch of anonymous campaign supporters provide him with his Bud Lite and Cheetos. As is always the case with this Governor, who’s getting what in return for their generosity? I can live with the thousand-dollar Neiman-Marcus window coverings and the $8400 in heated pool maintenance costs. In return, I’d prefer that the fat cats keep out of the Perry pantry. BOR, Hair Balls, Nick Anderson, and Harold Cook have more.

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