Perry spearheads fundraising dinner
By SUZANNE GAMBOA
© 2007 The Associated Press
Feb. 23, 2007
WASHINGTON — Texas Gov. Rick Perry will get a break from some testy times in his home state when fellow GOP governors laud him next week for his fundraising prowess.
Contributions for the Republican Governors Association reception with President Bush on Monday will break a fundraising record, said Nick Ayers, executive director of the association. Perry led the effort of the governors to pitch the reception to contributors.
"Perry's leadership has been phenomenal," Ayers said. "His willingness to be so involved has inspired other governors to being helpful as well."
Last year's dinner raised $8.2 million for the organization, and this year's is expected to raise at least another million. The actual tally was to be announced Monday.
The accolades should serve as a respite from the criticism Perry's had to fend off in Texas recently. He's been on the defensive over his mandate that Texas school girls be vaccinated against the virus that causes cervical cancer.
The mandate has angered conservatives who oppose its intrusion into families and see it as a contradiction to the state's abstinence-only sex education policies. Questions also have been raised about Perry's ties to Merck & Co., the maker of the vaccine. Perry's former chief of staff now lobbies for the company.
Perry's office has denied any wrongdoing and says the governor's only interest is battling cancer in Texas.
Perry is scheduled to be in Washington over the weekend and through Monday for the governors' winter meeting. Most of the meetings are not open to the public. His office said he'll also attend meetings scheduled by the National Governors Association, although Perry is not a member of the bipartisan group.
Of the donors to the Republican group, the top giver last year was Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, no relation to the governor. He gave $2.05 million, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks fundraising and spending.
Bob Perry was the largest political donor in Texas in 2006 and gave $380,000 to Perry's campaign, according to Texans for Public Justice, a political watchdog group.