The Case for Campaign Contribution Limits: How Bob Perry bought a state Supreme Court

bob-perry1

As we’ve said before, the passage by the legislature of a campaign contribution limits bill – which now awaits Governor Richardson’s signature — was long past overdue.  New Mexico was one of only five states in the nation with no caps whatsoever. Texas is another.

Perhaps that’s why Bob Perry, the multi-millionaire Houston homebuilder, and his wife Doylene Perry have found New Mexico politics so hospitable.  In 2008, Bob wrote campaign checks to the New Mexico Republican Party totaling $240,000.  In the 2006 cycle, the Bob and Doylene dropped a total of $361,000 into the state — to the following beneficiaries:

  • Vickie Perea, Republican Secretary of State candidate – $125,000
  • Jim Bibb, Republican Attorney General candidate – $75,000
  • NM Republican Party – $70,000
  • Demesia Padilla, Republican State Treasurer candidate – $50,000
  • Isaac Chavez, Republican State Rep. Candidate, Dist. 36 – $30,000
  • Lorenzo Garcia, Republican State Auditor candidate – $10,000
  • Nora Espinoza, Republican State Rep. Candidates – $1,000

In 2002, Perry gave NM Republican gubernatorial candidate John Sanchez a cool $250,000.

So what ever does Perry expect to get in return for all of this generosity?  Good government?  A story that aired on Saturday on National Public Radio will give you some idea what campaign money can buy:

bobperryhouseoflies1Bob and Jane Cull bought the home of their dreams in Texas. It was built by one of the most powerful and politically connected homebuilders in the country (Perry) — and it was defective. Thus began a 13-year odyssey that would teach them some unhappy lessons about money, power and influence…

The Culls’ new home was undergoing “foundation heave.” The clay soil underneath was expanding and contracting like a sponge as it got wet and dried out. The edges of the foundation began lifting, and the wooden frame began to bow under the stress.

But in their attempts to get some kind of redress, the Culls were up against a Texas political and judicial system that was bought and paid for by Bob Perry.

… since 2006, Bob Perry has contributed more than $21 million to political candidates and judges — including the nine Republican justices who make up the Texas Supreme Court.

“They all took money,” Wheat (research director of Texans for Public Justice) says. “Not a single member of that court should have sat and heard a case involving Bob Perry Homes.”

Six years after winning in arbitration, the Culls’ $800,000 award was thrown out. In a 5-4 decision, the Court disallowed arbitration and sent the case back to the courts.

Political influence and favorable judicial decisions secured through the use of campaign cash – it’s just another cost of doing bidness under the State of Texas’ campaign finance laws.

You can listen to the NPR story for yourself:  Did Builder’s Clout Trap Couple In Dream Home?

Although New Mexico may have lagged behind the rest of the nation in capping individual campaign contributions, we’re ahead of the curve in one vital respect.  In 2007, New Mexico enacted public financing for statewide judicial races – the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.

Here’s more info on Perry’s campaign contribution action in Texas.

And read about the home building industry-friendly “regulatory” agency that the Perry-financed legislature created for him.

SunCal must be so very jealous.

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One Response

  1. Man, don’t give SunCal any ideas! The way they were throwing around money during this 2009 session, I could see them wringing their hands and considering doing a Bob Perryish type agency. This is an excellent post and shows how our government bending to the will of the Bob Perry’s of the world affects the well being and quality of life of the less rich citizens of our nation.

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