This list is ongoing. I’ll be adding to it over time.
- Rick Perry was ranked as one of the worst governors by a national ethics watchdog group. The Houston Chronicle summarizes: the group said that the governor “allegedly disregarded campaign finance laws and aided a business that was especially generous to his campaign” and “accepted travel and campaign donations from a business that received benefits from his official actions.” The group also accused Perry of rejected federal economic stimulus money “in a manner that appeared to put partisan politics ahead of the interests of the citizens of Texas” and “has perpetuated the revolving door between government and special interests.” (Source)
- Vile political campaigns. In the 2002 governor’s race against Rick Sanchez, Perry used a negative campaign ad which implied that Sanchez was involved with Mexican drug smugglers (More). Even though there was no evidence linking Sanchez to this charge and the ad was widely condemned, Perry used this to sow doubt in the minds of white Texas voters. “What the ads did not mention is that Sanchez helped federal authorities bust the bad guys, and earned the praise of the Reagan Justice Department. In fact, when the ads ran, David Almaraz, the DOJ official who handled the investigation, denounced them, saying, “Perry’s claim is absolutely preposterous and completely false, without any foundation and fact.”(more). Perry also had to settle a lawsuit over possibly illegal campaign contributions during the 2006 campaign (source).
- Irresponsible political rhetoric. Perry has talked of secession several times and when speaking before a Tea Party group, called them a group of patriots, “not right-wing extremists.” (Source).
- Rick Perry has avoided scheduled debates for gubernatorial candidates. Instead, he has opted to get his message out by press conferences and political ads, things which by definition avoid public scrutiny. The refusal/inability to engage in a public debate with your opponent is a sign of political ineffectiveness and a contempt for the everyday voter (not to mention cowardice).
- Perry misused federal education grants that were earmarked to hire more teachers and instead used them to reduce taxes. As a result of protests by 40 school district superintendents in Texas, the US congress had to add a special provision to ensure that Perry would never do such a thing again (More).
- In the middle of a $11 billion budget shortfall, Perry’s administration spent $888 million on new ideologically-pure textbooks that has quickly made Texas the butt of late-night TV (Source). This action led one political commentator to call Rick Perry “the worst person of the world.”
- The Perry Administration refused even to apply for the $700 million in federal funds for the “Race for the Top” school improvement grant program. (Source). Houston ISD superintendent said “I’m disappointed. It was potentially a lot of money for our state. I’m not one to sell my soul for money, but I have 100,000 kids in Houston who don’t read at grade level, and I don’t agree with people who say resources don’t make a difference.” Debra Kerner, trustee of the Harris County Department of Education criticizes Perry’s rationale for not applying. “Perry attempts to justify his decision not to sign on to the national education standards by saying that our standards are already high. Again, I ask: If our standards are so high, why do we rank so low?Also according to the comptroller’s Web site, “Texas was the only state in the nation to cut average per pupil expenditures in fiscal year 2005, resulting in a ranking of 40th nationally; down from 25th in fiscal year 1999. Texas is sixth in the nation in student growth. The general student population in Texas public schools grew by 11.1 percent between school years 1999 and 2005, with the largest percentage of growth seen among low-income and minority children. Perry is cutting education funding while our school population is growing. He is playing politics with our schoolchildren, and it is costing our state millions of dollars.”
- Rick Perry has been the primary supporter of the Texas Enterprise Fund, a public fund to give cash to companies to create jobs. After Texas distributed $363 million to various companies, the number of jobs created was disappointing, so much so that Rick Perry’s office had to amend the original contracts and according to one study, “quietly redefine success.”
- 20 of the 55 companies to receive funds from the Texas Enterprise Fund were contributors to the Rick Perry campaign (Source). In addition, there are allegations that companies made donations to the Republican Governors’ Association – which in turn made campaign contributions to Perry’s campaign.
- Amazingly, one beneficiary of the Texas Enterprise Fund was Countrywide Financial who received $20 million from the State of Texas before going bankrupt under allegations of fraud. Not only did Perry approve of giving funds to Countrywide, he actually made a point to give a speech touting it as the fund’s “crowning jewel” (Source). Countrywide later became known for being a primary cause of the subprime loan mortgage meltdown and “has become synonymous with the excesses that led to the housing bubble.”
- Rick Perry rejected $556 million in federal unemployment stimulus dollars. (More). He did it because he felt the fed dollars came with too many strings attached. But that is not the point. The purpose of this stimulus money was to maintain consumer spending in the Texas economy. The end result is that unemployment taxes were doubled on Texas businesses.
- Rick Perry solicited a $250,00 donation from BP to help restore the governor’s mansion. (Source). Later after the BP spill he described the spill as an “act of God” and said that the company “historically had a very good safety record from my perspective” despite the fact that BP’s violation of safety standards at the Texas City refineries were numerous and well known. (Source)
Law Enforcement/Justice System
- Death Penalty. Rick Perry has mishandled several death penalty cases, but the most egregious is the Cameron Todd Willingham case which many claim is the first recorded case of an innocent man being wrongly executed (See this investigative report). Perry’s job was to make sure due process has been done for these kinds of cases and to handle last minute appeals. On the day of the scheduled execution, Perry had received a clear and persuasive report by one of the nation’s leading arson investigators that poked serious holes in the original arson report and suggested the original conclusion was invalid. Rather than order a delay to consider the matter, Perry decided to ignore the report and let the presumed innocent man be killed.
- On the same death penalty case, Perry manipulated the schedule of a scientific review purely for political purposes. He fired the head of the commission which had the result of delaying their conclusions from being published before the 2010 election. Many commentators say Perry he did this to avoid political cowardice before the election (More).
- Wildly unpopular fees on drivers. As a way to raise revenues, Rick Perry supported the Driver Responsibility Program. “Under the program, exorbitant state surcharges are attached to citations like speeding, driving without insurance, driving without a license and driving while intoxicated. In addition to paying the fines and court costs associated with the ticket, drivers must pay an annual surcharge ranging from $100 to $2,000 or their license is suspended.” (Source) By all measures the program has been a failure. Texas Tribune reports, “More than 60 percent of $1.8 billion DPS has billed in surcharges has gone uncollected. And some 1.2 million Texans have had their licenses suspended. Many continue driving anyway, without licenses and without auto insurance.”
- Rick Perry falsely claimed that climate change legislation would cost the typical Texas household $1200 per year. In fact, CBO and EIA estimate the cost to taxpayers at $180 per household (and potential economics benefits to Texans run to about $100 per household. (More). He directed his Attorney General to sue the US government for its EPA CO2 endangerment finding – even though the Texas climate expert Perry appointed strongly objected to this action. (I’ve read the Petition (PDF) to the EPA; its scientific basis is laughable).
- Rick Perry, in refusing to implement any state plan to regulate greenhouse gases, has prevented Texas from getting early credit for 42 million tons of emission credits resulting from renewable energy. Because Texas did not provide a plan when EPA asked for one, future EPA rules may not take this into account. One environmental group claims that this delay in coming up with a plan may cost Texans billions of dollars (Source).
- Rick Perry has praised the work of major denialist Sen Inhofe and according to his policy analyst “is not convinced” that global warming is a threat. (Source). Asked for elaboration on the scientists who Perry said are abandoning the “global warming bandwagon,” his office listed two dozen recent articles, almost none about scientists. They range from calls for Gore to lose his Academy Award to a posting from the Tehran Times (“Iran’s leading international daily”) stating that Gore doesn’t deserve the Nobel Peace Prize because as a senator he voted to authorize the first Gulf War. Despite the fact that almost every scientific body have endorsed the connection between CO2 and global warming (source) , Perry has continued to imply that the science is unsettled and wrongly states that Climategate casts doubt on this conclusion (source). In fact, the allegations of impropriety from ClimateChange are false, and even if they were true, it would not undermine the basic conclusion that CO2 is responsible for a large part of global warming (Source).
- Rick Perry tried to fast-track the approval process of 11 coal plants for Texas, something Bill White played a part in opposing (more).
Social Services/Welfare/Civil Rights
- Perry has argued against health care reform, arguing that emergency room access is sufficient for those without insurance. In fact, when uninsured people go to the emergency room, they are 21% more likely to die. (More) . It also ends up increasing the cost to taxpayers.
- Civil Rights. When the abolish gay marriage referendum passed in 2005, Rick Perry had wholeheartedly endorsed it. Not only was this referendum challenged in the courts, legal experts are predicting that the US Supreme Court will soon prevent bans on gay marriage in every state. If this happens, then Perry would have endorsed a position that is legally and politically backwards.. that catered to people’s prejudices. It sends a strong signal of intolerance to people inside Texans and outside it. Related: the Texas Republican party platform supports criminalization of gays and even re-enacting an anti-sodomy law which the US Supreme Court has already forbidden (More). Although Perry hasn’t embraced these extreme viewpoints of the Republican party, it’s worth asking whether a party that embraces such bigoted positions deserve our vote for anything.
Reasons why Texans need to vote for Bill White
- He’s not Rick Perry.
(More seriously, I haven’t had time to write that part).
A request to potential commenters: If you are going to make a comment, please restrict your remarks to the claims made above. For example, if you think that “Bill White is bad because X,” your point may very well be valid and interesting, but it is not relevant to this particular post. Over the next few weeks I will try to add positive reasons why I think Bill White is the better candidate of the two.
Another request: If anyone has any funny Rick Perry political cartoons, be sure to forward them to me!