It has come to my attention that some of you think the man that others of you have elected to statewide office six times is a clown. You are mistaken. A recent report confirms that Gov. Rick Perry is not a clown.
The current clown governors are Steven Beshear of Kentucky, Jan Brewer of Arizona, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Pat McCrory of North Carolina.
Six other governors, not including Perry, are sideshows.
Our long-serving governor is a ringmaster, a Washington-based government watchdog group says, which, in its view, is worse than a clown or a sideshow. The rankings are in “The Worst Governors in America,” a report published by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
“They say, ‘Don’t mess with Texas,’” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said, “but thanks to Governor Perry, Texas is a mess. If Governor Perry’s habit of rewarding his campaign donors with powerful appointments and millions in state funds isn’t bad enough, his hypocrisy and antipathy to transparency should give Americans pause.”
I’m not sure Texas is a mess (if we are, what’s Detroit?), and I guess we’ll see if Perry causes pause among Americans if he runs for president again. And if you can’t reward your campaign donors, who can you reward?
CREW is a respected outfit, respected for doing a good job of keeping an eye out for bad stuff done by government officials. To some, including Republicans who’ve incurred its wrath, CREW is a bunch of Democrats. It’s not that simple.
In November 2012, CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan, under the headline “Congressional corruption a bipartisan affair,” noted CREW had initiated actions about Republicans and Democrats. Sloan was responding to an allegation from Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS that said CREW “serves partisan causes under the dubious guise of charity.”
The “about us” section of CREW’s website (citizensforethics.org) says this about itself: “CREW uses high-impact legal actions to target government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests.”
For what it’s worth, 16 of the 18 governors who made CREW’s worst list (ringleaders, clowns and sideshows) are Republicans. The only Dems are Kentucky’s Beshear and New York’s Andrew Cuomo (the latter is significant to the extent he’s considered a potential 2016 presidential candidate).
The new report says it’s important to keep an eye on governors because with Washington in gridlock, “much of the legislative action takes place at the state level.”
“As a result, it is critical that governors’ conduct be beyond reproach,” CREW said in the report.
Perry’s is not, says CREW. He earned the ringmaster label for his “promotion of a political culture rife with cronyism and pay-to-play appointments; the pervasiveness and influence of revolving-door lobbyists in his administration; accepting free trips on the private planes of donors and special interests; abusing his position to benefit his family; simultaneous collection of a state government salary and state retirement pension; financial disclosure reporting violations; repeated flouting of transparency standards and blocking of public disclosure; misuse of state resources for his presidential campaign; and killing a measure that would have required politically active nonprofits to disclose their donors.”
None of these allegations, nor the details of them, are new to Texans who have been paying attention. Perry’s denied the allegations (summarized in detail at CREW’s citizensforethics.org) for as long as folks have been making them.
This was CREW’s second list of worst governors. The initial version in 2010 was billed as a list of “the nation’s most incompetent and unethical governors.” Eleven governors were on that list. Only two were Democrats. Only one is still governoring. Texans re-elected him in 2012.
But enough of looking backwards. Let’s look forward. Perry, I see, this fall is headed back to Iowa, scene of his 2012 presidential caucus debacle (10 percent, fifth place). This news did not excite all Repubs. Longtime GOP consultant Mike Murphy greeted the news with this tweet: “GOP clown car heads out early.”
But at Iowa GOP headquarters there was exclamation-pointed, upper-cased excitement about the fact that a potential 2016 presidential contender from Texas is headed to the state:
“Have you heard the news?” the Iowa GOP said in a recent, email. “One of the Republican Party’s conservative SUPERSTARS is confirmed to headline one of Iowa’s biggest fall events.
“Senator Ted Cruz from Texas is headlining Republicans’ annual ‘Reagan Dinner’ on Friday, October 25th!”