January 5, 2001
Lobby Thrust & Perry:
New Governor Hires Hired Guns
As He Hypes Lobby Ethics Code

Special Interests Enter Governor’s Office Through Revolving Back Door

New Texas Governor Rick Perry walked a tight rope on December 22 when he simultaneously: Governor Perry’s ethics rules signal some concern for conflicts of interest that arise when public officials exit the revolving door directly into the for-hire lobby. In the same breath, however, Perry personally invited hired guns to enter that revolving door and join his senior staff.

Three top Perry hires registered as lobbyists during the last legislative session. Policy Director Victor Alcorta III reported that nine business interests paid him up to $725,000 to lobby for them in the last legislative session. Communications and petro-chemical interests dominate his clients (who gave $52,750 to Perry’s lieutenant governor bid).

Legislative Affairs Director Patricia A. Shipton is a protégé of revolving-door lobbyist Jerry “Nub” Donaldson (the ex-legislator who made up to $720,000 lobbying in 1999). Shipton reported that 17 clients paid her up to $360,000 in the last session. The Texas Civil Justice League leads Shipton’s list of diverse business clients (who contributed $31,000 to Perry’s last campaign).

Perry’s third lobbyist staff pick is Communications Director Robert S. Howden, who has lobbied for the Texas chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business for 10 years (reporting a 1999 lobby income of up to $100,000).

The chief flaw of Perry’s ethics policy is not the fact that it turns a blind eye to lobbyists who enter government through the revolving door. Nor is it the fact that this policy prescribes a short cooling-off period for staff who want to enter the lobby (as little as one year). Although these are serious deficiencies, the main defect of this policy is that Perry adopted it by fiat. As such, these rules vanish when Perry reneges the policy or leaves office.

The fatal flaw of ad hoc ethics rules was demonstrated on December 28, when President Clinton revoked his 1993 executive order that would have barred senior federal officials from lobbying for five years. Fortunately, Clinton lacks authority to overturn a more resilient 1978 law that bars federal officials from lobbying for one year.

Rather than declaring half-baked ethics policies by fiat, Texas’ governor and legislature should enact a tough new ethics law to truly slam the brakes on Texas’ runaway revolving door.

Governor Perry’s Hired Guns

Policy Director Victor Alcorta's  Max. Value
1999 Lobby Clients of Contracts
Exxon Co. U.S.A. $150,000
McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore $100,000
Solutia, Inc. (chemicals) $100,000
Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. $100,000
TX Instruments, Inc. $100,000
TX Cable/Telecommunications Assn. $50,000
TX Funeral Directors Assn. $50,000
TX Society of Architects $50,000
DeHart & Darr (direct marketing) $25,000
TOTAL $725,000
Legislative Affairs Dir. Patricia Max. Value
Shipton's 1999 Lobby Clients of Contracts
Texas Civil Justice League $50,000
Anheuser-Busch Companies $35,000
BellSouth Cellular Corp. $25,000
Browning Ferris Industries $25,000
Car/Truck Renting & Leasing Assn. $25,000
Health Insurance Assn. of America $25,000
Lower Colorado River Authority $25,000
Oberthur Gaming Technologies $25,000
Pfizer, Inc. $25,000
Temple-Inland Forest Products $25,000
Texas Bankers Assn. $25,000
Centene Management Corp. $10,000
Nat'l Assn. of Independent Insurers $10,000
Singer Asset Finance Co. $10,000
Texas Merchandise Vending Assn. $10,000
Texas Probation Assn. $10,000
Multistate Associates, Inc. $0
TOTAL $360,000

# # #

Texans for Public Justice is a non-partisan, non-profit policy & research organization
 which tracks the influence of money in politics.

Lobby Watch | home