Governor George W. Bush's two gubernatorial campaigns
raked in $1.4 million from 122 individuals whom
Bush appointed to 50 leading state boards and
commissions, a new Texans for Public Justice study
reveals. This works out to an average of $11,259
per appointed donor.
gubernatorial appointment powers are highly susceptible
to political patronage abuse, Governor
Bush's Well-Appointed Officials concludes,
because the state imposes no limits on how much
money an individual can give candidates for state
office. Within this indulgent system, individual
appointees have contributed as much as $141,000
to the political campaigns of the person who appointed
them to public office.
a result of this patronage system, Texas governors
pass over more qualified individuals in order
to reward big donors with plum state posts. Many
of these big donors have vast economic interests
that have prompted ethical conflicts. At least
eight of the 50 state boards analyzed in this
report have been plagued by mismanagement and
ethics scandals in recent years.
simple reform could demolish this state's patronage
system and give people better, cleaner government,"
said Texans for Public Justice Director Craig
McDonald. "Once Texas imposes $1,000 contribution
limits, our governors will no longer be tempted
to pass over more-qualified people in order to
reward big contributors."
of this $1.4 million in appointee money came from
the state's vast higher education patronage system.
Bush's gubernatorial campaigns raked in a $679,106
jackpot from 76 regents whom Bush appointed to
the boards of the eight public universities analyzed
in the report. Bush's single biggest cash cows
were the UT System Board of Regents (for a total
of $432,606) and the Parks and Wildlife
Commission ($201,877), prestigious appointments
associated with the twin Lone Star passions of
UT Longhorn football and hunting.
most generous appointee, UT Regent Vice Chair
Tom Loeffler ($141,000): voted to license a UT
cancer treatment to a company that later gave
him stock options worth tens of thousands of dollars;
and sat on the board of the scandal-ridden UT
Investment Management Co., which awarded lucrative
contracts to the investment firms of some of Bush's
top donors. Special interests also paid Loeffler
and his lobby firm to stop the Texas Department
of Health from cracking down on makers of ephedrine
diet remedies, which were linked to eight Texas
for Public Justice is non-profit, non-partisan
research and advocacy group that tracks money
in Texas politics.
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