Texas Gov. Rick Perry takes Washington money - when it's for his campaignMonday, April 27, 2009
By WAYNE SLATER / The Dallas Morning News
AUSTIN – Rick Perry has railed against Washington, but when it comes to campaign cash, the governor has raised far more than rival Kay Bailey Hutchison from the nation's capital.
Perry has collected $2.7 million from Washington since becoming governor – four times more than Hutchison's $670,000 from Washington during the same period, a Dallas Morning News analysis finds.
The money has come from political communities, lobbyists, individuals and interest groups.
Perry has been able to raise far more than Hutchison overall, because federal campaigns have limits on individual donations, while Texas state campaigns do not. A slightly higher percentage of Hutchison's campaign money has come from Washington.
But the governor's financial support from the Beltway undercuts efforts to distance himself from the nation's capital by painting himself as the candidate of Texas-style government and Hutchison as the candidate of Washington, which recently landed Perry in the national spotlight amid talk of Texas secession.
"Governor Perry has built a fundraising mechanism well beyond the boundaries of Texas," said Craig McDonald of Texans for Public Justice, a nonprofit group that tracks campaign money. "He has been very successful with special interest groups inside the Beltway."
Hutchison campaign manager Rick Wiley said it's more evidence that Perry likes to bash Washington but has no problem taking its money – except for $555 million in federal unemployment money, which the governor says has strings attached.
"One has to wonder what kind of strings he's attached to the fundraising haul he had from Washington, D.C.," said Wiley.
Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner said the governor's critique of Washington is limited to political spending, not political contributors.
"He's talking about elected officials who vote for earmarks, bailouts and out-of-control spending – that's what he's referring to when he talks about the problems of Washington," Miner said.
The governor has sought to remind voters of Hutchison's years in Washington, where she's been a senator since 1993, and its recent record spending. Hutchison voted for the Bush administration's initial $700 billion bailout package for banks and Wall Street. She has since voted against the second half of that spending, and she opposed the federal economic stimulus package.
It's one of Perry's many steps to energize conservative voters who are expected to dominate the candidates' Republican primary next March.
Texas is the source of more than 90 percent of both candidates' campaign contributions.
Their Washington money, as a share of their totals, was comparable – 4 percent of Perry's donations and 5.7 percent of Hutchison's.
Perry has raised $66 million since 1991, fueled by two contested races in Texas. The Republican senator raised $11.6 million during the period in which she had re-election race.
Perry's totals include large contributions from Washington-based Republican committees in his 2002 and 2006 elections.
In his last race, the governor got $1 million from the Republican Governors Association in two checks, the second one a few days before the election when he traveled to Washington to receive it personally.
The group gets its money from wealthy individuals and a range of interests including pharmaceutical, liquor, transportation, gambling and financial companies with issues before government.
Hutchison's contributions, limited to $5,000 each election from political action committees, came from medical, aircraft, pharmaceutical, energy and telecommunications companies.
In many cases, the same donors gave to both. For example, several Washington lobbyists, troubled lender Countrywide Financial and political action committees for the Teamsters Union and Koch Industries gave money to Hutchison and Perry.
"You open up those huge reports of those political committees and it's corporate America, the people up there lobbying day in and day out for special favors," said McDonald.
Top Washington contributors to Perry, Hutchison
Republican Governors Association: $1 million
Republican National State Elections Committee: $750,000
National Republican Senatorial Committee: $250,000
Union Pacific PAC: $148,000
Teamsters Union PAC: $130,000
Koch Industries PAC: $50,000
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Valero Energy PAC: $20,000
Vought Aircraft PAC: $20,000
American Airlines PAC: $18,000
American Bankers Association: $18,000
AT&T PAC: $17,500
Textron PAC: $15,000
NOTE: Contributions raised from 1991 through 2008
*Federal law limits donations from political action committees to $5,000 per election cycle. Texas law has no limit on the size of political contributions.
SOURCE: Dallas Morning News research