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Shanda Perkins

Senate rejects Shanda Perkins

The nomination of Shanda Perkins, the unqualified anti-sex toy activist best known for her war on dildos, for the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, was rejected today by the Senate.

After a brief debate, the GOP-controlled Senate by a 27-4 vote sent the nominee of fellow Republican Perry back to the Nominations Committee, where it is expected to die.

While Perkins’ lack of qualifications were cited as a reason for the surprise move, several senators said Perkins’ involvement in a 2004 controversy over the sale of sex toys in her hometown of Burleson was a factor.

Just last week Perkins had been approved by the Nominations Committee, with a single dissenting vote.

Wednesday’s public vote against a gubernatorial nominee is a rarity, something several senators said had not occurred in years. In most cases when senators want to derail a nomination, they block it so it never gets out of the committee.


At her Senate confirmation hearing last week, Perkins denied she had anything much to do with it.

Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, argued that Perkins was simply unqualified for the $95,000-a-year, full-time post.

“This is not a partisan issue. This is not a personal issue … This is a life-and-death position. It demands qualifications.,” Whitmire said.

Three other nominees to the parole board that were confirmed by the Senate are highly qualified, Whitmire said. Two are longtime board members who are being reappointed, and the other is a Huntsville attorney.

“They have multiple degrees … (Perkins) has no college degree,” he said, noting that Perkins has no criminal justice experience, other than working for a time as a prison ministry volunteer.

Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, agreed. “The basis question is: Are there more qualified people out there?” he said.

As for the lingering issues, Whitmire said he was opposed to the nomination based solely on Perkins’ lack of qualifications. “There are others that could be raised. I wish not to go there,” he said.

After 10 minutes of debate, senators returned to their chairs and quietly voted down Perkins, in a chamber that is usually noisy with conversations.

Good for them. While I think a Governor – or a President – should have a lot of latitude in making nominations like this, some minimum standard needs to be met. The Senate has a constitutional role to advise and consent, and when they’re presented with a stinker like this, it’s perfectly proper for them to send it back. It clearly wasn’t a close call in this case; one wonders why they bothered to let the nomination out of committee. Be that as it may, this was the right thing to do. Thanks to Grits for the catch.

Can’t wait to see the transcript of this one

Speaking of appointments, the Senate Nominations Committee today will consider Governor Perry’s naming of Shanda Gillaspie (Perkins) to the Board of Pardons and Parole. You remember her – she’s the anti-sex toy activist best known for her war on dildos. I’m going to resist the urge to make any bad puns and just note that as Grits says, she’s unqualified for the post. But she does serve a political purpose, and sometimes that’s all that’s needed.

Why does Governor Perry hate sex toys?

From Scott Henson:

Normally, the Texas Senate rubber stamps the Governor’s appointments to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, but one of Rick Perry’s three appointees announced last week perhaps deserves closer vetting by the Senate. According to the Governor’s press release:

Shanda G. Perkins of Burleson is a retired banking executive. She is a member of the United Way of Johnson County Board of Directors and Burleson Lions Club. She is also director of the Johnson County Chamber Summit, and is a member and past ambassador of the Burleson Chamber of Commerce. She also volunteered as a youth pastor, counselor and Sunday school teacher at Lighthouse Church. Perkins replaces Jose Aliseda of Beeville.

That doesn’t explain, though, why she’s being appointed to this slot. As far as I can tell, Mrs. Perkins’ sole experience in the criminal justice realm stems from a personal morality crusade against the sale of sex toys in Johnson County that led to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturning Texas’ law on the subject.

She’s so tough on crime, in other words, she’s tough on crimes the federal courts say cannot exist because they’re acts protected by the First Amendment. But Governor Rick Perry thinks she’ll make fair decisions on the parole board?

Now that’s what I call being tuff on crime. And I just wanted to point out that I blogged about this two other times besides the link Scott used. Because as I said before, what’s the point of having a blog if you can’t use material like this? If you really want to know more about this – and of course you do – I recommend this Dallas Observer story from 2004, which gives rise (sorry) to the term “dildo runner”. Never have I meant the words “check it out” more than I do right now.