Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show last night made a pitch for turning Congress into a part-time legislature. He told Hannity in response to a question about alleged insider trading by members of Congress: “People are fed up with this. The freedom of information act, they have exempted themselves from that. They don’t have to show the conversations or the e-mails or the texts. I mean, that’s what Americans are really upset with. Not only have they now taken us to over $15 trillion . . .”
The hypocrisy here is jaw-dropping. This is the governor who jammed through a provision in a critical school-funding measure to prevent public access to his travel records.
Moreover, this is the governor who, until September of this year, had a controversial practice of destroying e-mails. Jay Root of the Texas Tribune reported: “Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s state office has temporarily stopped deleting e-mails every seven days — as its official document-retention policy allows — thanks to the efforts of a Wisconsin-based political activist who thinks they should be preserved longer. Government-transparency advocate John Washburn has devised a computer program to automatically spit out requests, twice a week, for all of the e-mails generated by the governor’s office. That has had the impact of halting the routine destruction of the records, because the law says files can’t be destroyed if somebody asks for them under the Texas Public Information Act.” Keith Elkins, director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, is quoted as saying: “Unfortunately, what has happened in Texas is the record of Rick Perry is being systematically destroyed on a weekly basis. It’s not the way that state agencies are told to conduct their business, and I don’t think it’s correct for the chief executive officer of Texas either.”
Indeed, Perry’s professed outrage over self-dealing by members of Congress is pretty nervy, considering his own self-enrichment while in office. The Texas Tribune, again: “Some longtime observers of the Texas governor say his effort to portray himself as a reform-minded government ‘outsider’ is inconsistent with his record, which they argue is peppered with instances in which his personal and political relationships became entangled in ways that helped him profit financially.” The list is familiar to Perry-watchers:
In the months leading up to his 2010 gubernatorial re-election, The Dallas Morning News reported that Perry had purchased land in Horseshoe Bay from his longtime friend and fellow state lawmaker, Troy Fraser, for $150,000 less than its appraised value of $450,000. Perry sold the property in 2007 for more than $1 million.
In 2002, the Houston Chronicle reported that Perry had transferred 60 acres of Austin land he owned into a blind trust right before the 1999 Texas Legislature met. His trust sold the property for a profit a few days after then-Gov. George W. Bush signed legislation that allowed development on the land. Back then, Perry spokesman Sullivan told the Chronicle the decision was made “by the trustee, not the governor.”
And in September, The Huffington Post reported that federal authorities investigated Perry two years after a 1996 transaction in which he bought 2,800 shares from Kinetic Concepts Inc., a health technology company owned by Dr. James Leininger, a top donor to Perry and to Republicans. A month later, Perry went on to sell 8,000 shares of his Kinetic stock, making $38,000 off the deal.
In a 1998 interview with the Morning News, Perry said he spoke with Leininger on the same day his stockbroker made the purchase but that they never mentioned the stocks, and that the timing was a coincidence. Though an anonymous Austin attorney’s reports of Leininger offering Perry a “stock tip” spawned a federal inquiry, campaign spokesman Mark Miner told The Huffington Post that he was only aware that the Securities and Exchange Commission “reviewed the matter and dismissed it.”
This is pretty much par for the course for Perry. He criticizes crony capitalism in Washington but defends it when the states do it. He criticizes bailouts but took a chunk of one to help balance his books. And when it comes to making a buck off his public office and non-transparency by public officials, his motto appears to be “For thee, but not for me.”