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Thursday, January 19, 2006

 

TPM: More of the pattern

By Josh Micah Marshall/Talking Points Memo--January 19, 2006 -- 09:44 AM EST

Before 2003, the State of Texas had never hired a private sector lobbyist to advocate its interests in Washington, DC. That year Gov. Rick Perry (R) hired Drew Maloney, a former Chief of Staff for Tom DeLay, on a contract that has since paid him $180,000 in state funds.

According to this article in the Houston Chronicle, prior to being hired, Maloney had made no more than $250 in political campaign contributions.

Since being hired he's contributed $75,000 to various Republican political committees.
Last year the state added former Abramoff associate Todd Boulanger to their lobbying stable.

The Maloney and Boulanger contracts will cost the state $1.1 million through August of next year.

Texas Dems say it's money-laundering. What do you call it?

Now the three state Republicans responsible for the hires are arguing about whose idea it all was.

The Houston Chronicle article continues:

The national lobby office contracts are approved by Perry, House Speaker Tom Craddick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. But Craddick and Dewhurst said the hiring of lobbyists was Perry's choice, and Craddick said he opposes hiring outside lobbyists.

"I never approved of these contracts, I did not recommend these lobbyist groups, and I have publicly stated that I am against this decision," Craddick said. "The board on which I serve is explicitly an advisory board and the power to make those decisions ultimately rests in the hands of the governor."

Craddick on Wednesday released a letter he sent to Perry on Nov. 3, 2005, opposing extending contracts for Maloney and Boulanger's firms.

"In 2003, the Legislature agreed to cut funds for (the state-federal relations office) due to excess funding. However, there was never any intention to replace those cuts with spending on lobbyists," Craddick said.

In the letter, Craddick told Perry the power to hire the outside lobbyists "ultimately rests in your hands."

[Perry spokeswoman Rachel] Novier said the hiring of both Maloney and Boulanger was done through competitive bidding. She said state funding for the national lobby office has decreased by 15 percent since it began hiring outside lobbyists, but the flow of federal funds into Texas has increased by billions of dollars.

Competitive bidding. You just can't make this stuff up.

Source: Talking Points Memo.

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

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