Saturday, July 17, 2010

White Beats Perry in Cash On Hand: Some Answers

In my previous posting on how Texas’ Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White has out-performed the fundraising machine known as Re-Elect Rick Perry, I sat in amazed wonderment over the fact that Bill White has $3 million more than Rick Perry has in cash on hand, but the question still begged: how did that ever happen?

Republicans are absolute geniuses at raking in the lucre from lobbyists and all manner of influence buyers. The GOP has a vice-like grip on the throat of power in Texas. They are the go-to people if you want to buy someone’s favor or interest.

So what happened?

Well as it turns out, as revealed here, two things.

First, as the Austin American-Statesman reports, Rick Perry paid the Chris Bell campaign a $426,000 settlement out of his campaign coffers earlier this year. This payment was, as it turns out a settlement that came out of a lawsuit that Chris Bell filed as a result of some pretty shady dealings that went on during the 2006 gubernatorial race that pitted Perry against Bell and two (or was it seven?) other gubernatorial candidates.

“Asked to explain why the Perry campaign settled with Bell, Perry spokesman Mark Miner said, ‘Due to the unnecessary cost and time factors of litigation, both parties have decided to pursue other strategies.’ He declined to elaborate on those other strategies.”

“Bell alleged that Houston homebuilder Bob Perry tried to hide a $1 million contribution to Rick Perry (no relation) late in the 2006 campaign by sending it to the Republican Governors Association, which then sent $1 million to Perry.” 
“Bell named the Perry campaign and the governors association in his lawsuit. Because the campaign did not properly identify the group on state finance reports, donors to the governors' group were not properly disclosed to the public, Bell alleged. Perry's lawyers have previously said that, at worst, Perry made a reporting error”
A “reporting error” that cost Perry over 400 large. It makes one wonder if this was indeed a “reporting error,” and there is no reason to believe that at all, but even if that were the case, how is it that in light of this “reporting error” Rick Perry is able to balance his checkbook let alone a state budget?

No, it is very clear from news of this settlement that wholesale exchanges of cash from one fund to another, not unlike the Tom DeLay ARMPAC/TRMPAC shenanigans that got DeLay indicted and then chased out of DC, are the kinds of things we are seeing still going on, only this time Perry cut his losses by settling.

Unfortunately it does show up rather glaringly when the January-June TEC filings went public this week.

According to the article, Bell is not finished here. Perry has bought himself out of the lawsuit but Chris Bell is still holding the Republican Governors Association feet to the fire.

“Bell is still suing the governors' group, alleging that it did not take all of the steps required by state law before contributing to Perry's campaign. The suit is currently before state District Judge John Dietz , an Austin Democrat.”
Maybe this explains part two of why Rick Perry’s campaign war chest has lagged behind Bill White’s. Cause and effect notwithstanding, it‘s probably no coincidence that Rick Perry’s campaign fund has yet to receive a contribution from the Republican Governor’s Association. It is, after all, not over for them yet. It is possible that they may have to withhold funds from Perry’s campaign in order to make a future settlement with the Bell lawsuit.

Bill White’s campaign doesn’t have that problem. The Democratic Governors’ Association has, in fact, made campaign contributions to White’s campaign, something to the tune of $1.5 million since February.

So there you have it. White is $3 million ahead of Perry, half of that from a contribution from the Democratic Governors’ Association that is unmatched in Perry’s campaign from the RGA, plus an unexpected outgo to settle a pretty embarrassing lawsuit out of court.

In evaluating the Perry campaign versus Bill White's things tend to "add up" in more than just the usual ways.

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