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Perry settles lawsuit with Bell

The settlement in the lawsuit by Chris Bell against the Rick Perry campaign over allegations of illegal campaign contributions to Perry by the Republican Governors Association (RGA) is now official.

Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign paid $426,000 to former Democratic challenger Chris Bell to settle a lawsuit.

Bell, Perry’s unsuccessful Democratic challenger in 2006, sued the Perry campaign a few years ago, claiming that it had accepted contributions that were improperly routed through the Republican Governors Association to hide their true source.

Shortly before giving Perry $1 million in the closing days of the 2006 campaign, the RGA received a couple of major donations from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry.

The Perry campaign paid Bell on March 3, the day after this year’s primary. The money went to Bell personally, not to a political campaign.

Actually, if you read the lawsuit Bell filed, the claim Bell made that he said entitled him to damages was that the Republican Governors Association PAC was not a qualified PAC in Texas at the time of the donation. The Bob Perry issue was mentioned in the suit, but it was a political matter, the idea being that by having him give a million bucks to the RGA, which then sent two donations totaling that amount to Perry, that donation was effectively hidden from public view. (See here for a copy of the original Chron story reporting on that.) You may recall that towards the end of the race, the Bell campaign got an infusion of over a million dollars from Houston trial lawyer John O’Quinn, which Perry used to bash Bell. One can certainly understand why Perry didn’t want it widely known that he was taking a similar infusion from this well-known Republican sugar daddy. But the crux of the lawsuit was the claim that the RGA was not legally able to make a donation to Perry’s campaign at that time because they were not officially recognized as a political organization in Texas. (Or at the federal level, apparently.)

Interestingly, the Houston Chronicle reported [Friday] morning that the Democratic Governors Association, which has given former Houston Mayor Bill White more than $1 million this year, has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from Texas donors.

That Chron story is here. I understand the parallel that is being drawn, but unless someone is claiming that the DGA hasn’t filed the proper paperwork as was the case with the RGA in 2006, it has nothing to do with anything. Fortunately, the full Statesman article clears that up.

Whereas the Bell lawsuit alleged that Perry did not properly report contributions from the governors’ group in 2006, White spokeswoman Katy Bacon said White’s campaign made the required disclosures when his out-of-state money came in. The ethics commission confirmed that the proper reports were filed.

It also notes that as Perry has been the Chair of the RGA, some of their abundant resources will likely be headed his way.

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  1. el_longhorn says:

    It really worries me that the Democrats are talking so much about this. Essentially the argument here is that Democrats properly report the money that they receive from big business but Republicans don’t? Somehow I don’t see this as playing very well with your average voter.

    I am still waiting to hear a cohesive political strategy from Bill White. It is getting late. I want to hear policy proposals that address real issues in Texas. The mansion stuff is good, but “Elect me and I will cancel the subscription to Food and Wine and rent a place for less than $9000 a month” just deosn’t inspire me for some reason.

    What will Bill White do as governor? Will he raise the gas tax to fund roads and education? Will he legalize gambling? What will he do about Texas insurance rates? What will he do about college tuition?

    Time to put up or shut up or be the next in a long string of Democrats that have lost to Perry.

  2. mary t. says:

    I think the average informed voter would like to know where candidates’ money is coming from, and if it is coming from a source that is not legally registered in Texas, that also says something about the candidate. It tells me that the candidate does not bother to pay attention to law, surrounds him or herself with people who don’t pay attention to law, and when they try to hide their legal indiscretion it says even more. It tells me the candidate and their staff is at best sloppy and/or lazy or at worst knowingly breaking the law and think it’s okay. In this case, Perry took money from an organization (RGA) that was not registered in Texas, that seems to be a donation Bob (the builder) Perry didn’t want to give directly to Perry (why would Bob the builder not want voters to know that he donated $1 million dollars to Perry. . .).

  3. […] it cost Rick Perry $426,000 to buy off someone who virtually no one but faithful readers of this blog can recognize, I’m sure full […]