Perry retorted that he was offended by any suggestion that he could be swayed by a $5,000 campaign contribution — an inaccurate figure, it turned out, that was only a fifth of the actual amount he had received from the company.
Even so, Bachmann understated the role that lobbyist Mike Toomey has played in Perry’s fortunes.
In the Republican frontrunner’s charmed political career, few relationships have been more mutually beneficial than one that began back in the mid-1980s, when both he and Toomey were members of the Texas House and roomed together during legislative sessions.
Since then, Toomey has made himself useful to Perry in a number of capacities — and has become one of Austin’s most sought-after and highly compensated lobbyists as a result.
In the first seven months of this year, Toomey earned somewhere between $1.34 million and $2.38 million doing work for 27 clients, according to data compiled by the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice from reports to the state ethics commission. (Texas disclosure laws require lobbyists to report their earnings in broad ranges.)
The business community in Texas is so powerful that Democrats sometimes refer to the lobbyist section in the capitol’s House gallery as “the owner’s box.”
As for Toomey, “I guess you would call him a fixer, and a go-between for the governor with the business lobby,” said Call Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “You find Toomey all over — sometimes on the inside; sometimes on the outside.”
Jillson added: “He’s out there doing everything he can think of on Perry’s behalf, and if he doesn’t have the money to do it, he knows where to get it.”
In 1993, while Perry was serving as Texas agriculture commissioner, Toomey served as his attorney in a lucrative land deal. While Perry was out of town on vacation, Toomey closed the sale of a 9.3-acre lot to computer mogul Michael Dell for $465,000, which was more than triple what Perry had paid for it only two years before.
During his two years as Perry’s chief of staff, from 2002 to 2004,Toomey was dubbed “The Enforcer” by Texas Monthly for his tough way of getting things done for Perry. “I think I am used as the bad cop regularly because I don’t mind doing it,” he told the magazine.
Last year, as Perry was running for reelection against a potentially strong Democratic opponent, a 22-year-old University of Texas student testified in court that Toomey had paid him $12,000 to get signatures in a petition drive to get the Green Party on the ballot. The move, if it had succeeded, could have siphoned off Democratic votes; a lawsuit by Democrats remains pending in federal court.