Sunday, July 26, 2009

Report shows Perry lives in Luxury

Its no secret that Texas' longest serving governor lives in the lap of luxury. Today the Houston Chronicle released two lists that show gifts and travel paid provided to Governor Perry since his reign as governor began.

Gifts are nothing new to politicians. Its seen as kind of a perk, but the lists provided by the Chronicle are quite impressive.

Here is a quick excerpt from R.G. Ratcliffe's article in today's Houston Chronicle:

The taxpayers shell out $108,000 a year to rent him an estate west of Austin, and spend another $168,000 on chefs, stewards and housekeepers for the Perrys' creature comforts.

Piano maestro Van Cliburn once played at the Governor's Mansion for first lady Anita Perry's birthday. Dallas aerobics guru Dr. Kenneth Cooper once gave the governor free medical tests. Expensive gifts to Perry have included 16 pairs of custom-made boots, a pair of spurs, hunting trips, sports tickets and a football helmet signed by former Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith.

The perks of being governor are not unusual across the nation, and in many states, governors like Perry are also de facto head of state business recruitment.

Wealthy donors and corporate-funded foundations, for example, have flown him to the Bahamas for scuba diving, to Paris, Rome and Dubai for business promotion and to San Diego, Calif., for the one-time Texas A&M yell leader to attend an Aggies Muster for expatriate A&M graduates.

There was a trip to Istanbul for the Bilderberg conference hosted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. A trip to the Middle East had on its schedule meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Jordan's King Abdullah and a “breathtaking sunset cruise on the Red Sea.”

Governor Perry was honest about his role of attracting businesses to Texas -- making him the de facto Salesman for attracting and retaining businesses. Ratcliffe's article continues with:

Perry, who took office in 2000, said in a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle that his only motivation as governor is to affect public policy: “This is not about me. It's not about whatever the people would perceive as the perks of being governor ... I get to go do a job every day that makes a difference in people's lives. I find that very satisfying.”

Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle said the governor's amenities are like those of previous governors and others across the country.

“Texas is the tenth largest economy in the world. We're the number one exporting state. We have an economy that is an economic powerhouse,” Castle said. “Carrying that message to other countries, other leaders, business leaders, state leaders is an important mission.”

And what about travel you ask? Well, here's what Ratcliffe's article says about that:

[Allison] Castle noted that Perry's travel is not paid by taxpayers.

Texas One, a corporate-finance foundation, pays for much of Perry's business development travel. Other travel is paid for by his political committee or campaign donors. And some is financed as in-kind contributions from specific wealthy donors or interest groups.

Scuba diving was on the agenda in a controversial 2004 trip when beer distributor John Nau and investor Charles Tate, both of Houston, and San Antonio investor James Leininger paid $40,400 to fly Rick and Anita Perry and others on private jets to the Bahamas for a trip that included discussions of public education policy.

Houston's Gulf States Toyota owner Thomas Friedkin gave $9,000 in travel to Perry's campaign last year so the governor, his wife and daughter could spend two days in Key West for a fundraiser.

Perry and his wife leave this week for San Diego to raise money for his re-election. They visited San Diego this time last year, a trip that included a visit to the San Diego Chargers training camp.

Which reminds us here at KVR... the Dallas Cowboys will begin their training camp in San Antonio at the Alamodome on Tuesday. We hope Rick will at least send an envoy to the Cowboys while he visits with the Chargers in San Diego.

Click here for a list of Gifts provided to Governor Perry.

Click here for a list of travel/trips for Governor Perry paid for by others.

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