One of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s oft-touted strengths in the Republican primary is his demonstrated prowess at fundraising. Less widely known is how he has raised that money and what he has done in return for it. According to Texas good government and environmental watchdogs, Perry has raised much of his campaign funds from business executives who have financial interests in state government decisions. Often Perry’s supporters come from the energy sector and Perry’s help for them has come at the expense of the environment.Perry rewards those who make sizeable contributions with appointments and political favors. He also works hard to do what his contributores want him to do. His seond largest all time donor is the owner of a nuclear waste dump, Harold Simmons.
Over his three campaigns for governor Perry raised a remarkable $102 million. Perry’s predecessor, George W. Bush, who was no slouch at fundraising himself, brought in $41 million over two campaigns.
Half of Perry’s haul, $51 million, has come from just 204 sources. Some are political action committees, but most are wealthy individuals. “He relies on a relatively small network of very big hitters, wealthy businessmen and their spouses who want something out of Texas government,” says Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, a nonprofit research group that tracks the influence of money in Texas politics. As the Dallas Morning News reported during Perry’s re-election bid last year, “Perry tapped scores of big-dollar donors—including some who have business before the state or have benefited from taxpayer subsidies,” to vastly outraise his Democratic opponent, Bill White.
Perry led the charge in 2010, while Simmons gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Perry’s re-election campaign, to allow Simmons to import nuclear waste from thirty-eight states. On June 27 of this year, ten days after Perry signed the legislation, Simmons gave $100,000 to Americans for Rick Perry. Tom Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, estimates that the rule change will bring upward of $2 billion for Simmons. “If you put money in Perry’s purse, he’ll create policies you need,” says Smith.Essentially Rick Perry is owned by Bob Perry, Harold Simmons, and a few similar very wealthy individuals. Rick Perry has been happy to sell the health and economic well-being of Texans to these people.
Perry has been similarly accommodating of various other energy interests in the state. Texas has violated the Clean Air Act by allowing industrial plants such as oil refineries to reduce emissions overall rather than at each emissions point. When the Environmental Protection Agency informed Texas that they would have to take over Clean Air Act implementation in the state, Perry complained. “Perry’s on the cutting edge of this whole ‘job-killing EPA’ strategy that Republicans have used,” says Smith. There’s a saying Texas, according to Smith that “it’s cheaper to invest in politicians than in pollution controls.” Perry has been similarly critical of the EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases nationally.
Perry has been carrying water for environmentally destructive industries since his days in the Texas legislature. Back then, in the late 1980s, he led efforts to prevent species such as the golden cheek warbler from being listed as endangered, because their habitats in West Texas were threatened by suburban sprawl. Developers feared that they would be unable to pave over sensitive lands. Perry’s all-time biggest donor is home builder Bob Perry (no relation).
Now those same people want to buy the government of the United States. That's why Rick Perry is running for President.