Watchdog group files complaint against Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign over mansion spendingBy AP
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Group criticizes Texas governor’s mansion spending
AUSTIN, Texas — A government watchdog group filed a complaint against Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign Tuesday, saying it failed to properly disclose how it spends money at the Governor’s Mansion and at his temporary residence.
Since 2001, Perry’s campaign has spent more than $800,000 under the loosely defined category of “mansion expenditures.” Texans for Public Justice, a liberal watchdog group, said in a complaint filed Tuesday with the Texas Ethics Commission that the campaign violated disclosure laws by failing to itemize the spending.
“The law requires politicians to disclose every expenditure so the public can see if they are spending campaign money on their own, personal creature comforts,” said Craig McDonald, director of the group.
Records obtained this year by The Associated Press show Perry has used campaign money to throw parties, buy food and drink, and pay for cable TV and other services at his official residence.
Perry, the state’s longest serving governor, is currently living in a rental mansion in tony West Austin while repairs are being made to the Texas Governor’s Mansion. Perry moved into the temporary home in the fall of 2007, leaving the white columned, two-story governor’s mansion so it could undergo repairs.
A still-unsolved arson wrecked the 1856 residence less than a year later, and officials say it will take about two more years to finish its reconstruction.
Perry has spent about $600,000 in public money during the past two years to live in the sprawling rental. Over the same time period, he has used some $130,000 in campaign donations at the temporary mansion. Perry aides say that the use of donated money at the official residence is a long-standing practice that has helped reduce costs to taxpayers.
“Everything is in accordance with the law and practices of past governors,” said Perry spokesman Mark Miner.
Perry is facing Democrat Bill White, Houston’s former mayor, in the governor’s race in November.