Rick Perry's Friends with Benefits

By Harkinson, Josh | Mother Jones, November/December 2011 | Go to article overview

Rick Perry's Friends with Benefits


Harkinson, Josh, Mother Jones


Scratch the Texas governor's back, and he just might give you a massage.

IT PAYS to bet on Rick Perry: Nearly half of the Texas governor's 150 most generous political donors have received business contracts, tax breaks, orappointmentsfrom him or his administration. Here are nine backers ofthe Republican presidential hopeful who have found it mighty helpful to have a friend in Austin:

Lonnie "Bo" Pilgrim, owner of Pilgrim's Pride

DONATIONS TO PERRY: $497,000

RETURN ON INVESTMENT: The poultry company flew Perry in a private jet to Washington, DC, to lobbythe Environmental Protection Agency to waive ethanol standards that Pilgrim believed were driving up its chicken feed costs. (Sadly, to no avail.)

Bob Perry, owner of megabuilder Perry Homes and Swift Boat funder(no relation to Rick)

DONATIONS TO PERRY: $2.5 million

ROI: The governor pushed through a bill creatingthe Texas Residential Construction Commission, which consumer advocates called a "homebuilder protection agency," and then appointed Bob Perry's in-house lawyer to it.

Harold Simmons, owner of Waste Control Specialists

DONATIONS TO PERRY: $1.1 million

ROI: Perry's top environmental regulator overruled his own staff and green-lighted a wcs nuclear waste dump before becoming a wcs lobbyist. An eight-person panel with six Perry appointees then letthe dumptake in waste from around the country.

B.J. "Red"McCombs,cofounder of Clear Channel Communications

DONATIONS TO PERRY: $398,625

ROI: Texas has pledged $25 million a year in subsidies for a new Formula One racetrackthat McCombs is the main investor in.

Erie Nye,formerchairman of TXU Energy

DONATIONS TO PERRY: $258,000

ROI: Shortly before getting more than $100,000 in donations from TXU and its employees in October 2005, Perry ordered a fast -track review of its application to build coal-fired power plants. …

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