Campaign donation spurs words between Bell, Perry
Thursday, October 12, 2006
By BRAD WATSON / WFAA-TV
An $1 million donation made to Chris Bell's campaign has spurred a war of words against Bell and Gov. Rick Perry.
Big campaign donations are now a bigger issue in the governor's race.
Democrat Chris Bell accepted a single donation record of $1 million from a trial attorney, and now Republican Rick Perry is on the attack for that.
Bell told Dallas County Young Democrats the big donation puts his campaign in great shape and claimed he promised nothing in return.
"All he's asking for is good government," he said. "There's nothing that the state of Texas can do for John O'Quinn."
O'Quinn, a Houston trial lawyer, gave Bell the million dollars.
In return, Perry's campaign blasted O'Quinn as Bell's "sugar daddy."
The Perry campaign also brought up O'Quinn's no contest plea to drunk driving and his nasty divorce.
Bell called that attack politics.
"It's sad that he would attack a private citizen in such a personal fashion," he said.
But Texas Ethics Commission records show Perry has an army of smaller sugar daddies.
Texans for Public Justice, which tracks donations, found 65 people or groups that gave Perry at least $100,000 each since January 2003.
Perry said they get no favors.
"People contribute to my campaign because they believe in me and believe in where I'm taking the state of Texas," he said.
But some big Perry donors get to be in government.
Perry put retired TXU executive Erle Nye, who gave $103,000, on the Texas A&M Board of Regents.
Dallas insurance executive Larry Anders donated more than $120,000 and is on the Texas Tech Board of Regents.
And Dallas investor Robert Rowling gave Perry's campaign more than $102,000, and Perry placed him on the University of Texas board.
There's no limit on the amount a person can donate to a campaign in Texas.
Texans for Public Justice says big donations guarantee access to powerful politicians, something not available to regular citizens; and it wants lawmakers to pass campaign finance reform.
Perry defends his appointments.
"They have a disclosure, a financial disclosure, which they make and I stand by every one of those individuals," he said.
But Bell claims Perry can't have it both ways regarding big campaign donations.
"If he wants to try to seize the moral high ground in this debate, then he's going to have a very tough time doing it," he said.