Revolving Door: Class of 2008

The latest edition of Lobby Watch, a report from Texans for Public Justice, has ten new names for the list of legislators who served in the last session and are now lobbyist in this session. According to Lobby Watch, the luck ten legislators are averaging $389,000 each in lobbying contracts. Five of the ten are lobbying for AT&T.

One of the worries about the revolving door between the legislature and the lobby is the possibility that current legislators think about how their current votes might impact future lucrative lobbying contracts. Kindness toward an interest like AT&T could mean more cash in the campaign coffer during the next election or more money in the personal account if they lose or retire. It’s a conflict of great interest to many Texans.

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Texas gets a shield law

Texas became the 37th state to have a “shield law” on May 13, 2009 when Governor Perry signed the “Free Flow of Information Act” (HB 670) into law. Until now, reporters  in Texas could be compelled to reveal their confidential sources.

There are significant limitations in the new law. For example, reporters may be compelled to provide confidential information if “all reasonable efforts have been exhausted to obtain the information from alternative sources” or if the need for the information outweighs the public interest in protecting journalism. However, the law was seen as a victory by the Houston Post and other news outlets.

Sizing up Perry

National Journal, one of the most widely respected sources in DC just did a poll of 99 Republican insiders asking who among the current batch of GOP governors had the brightest political future. The top mentions were:

Bobby Jindal (Louisiana)         21 percent
Haley Barbour (Mississippi)   20 percent
Tim Pawlenty   (Minnesota)    17 percent
Charlie Crist   (Florida)            13 percent

Sarah Palin (5%) tied for 7th with Mitch Daniels of Indiana. Rick Perry got no votes.

Jindal has been a bit of a disappointment so far and Barbour may have trouble winning support outside the South (or may be eclipsed by South Carolina’s Mark Sanford).  Tim Pawlenty, a close third, might be governor to watch. I thought Crist and Jon Huntsman (at 6%-the governor of  Utah recently appointed envoy to China) were especially interesting because they’re just starting to get attention.

Having a candidate from outside Washington would be a nice compliment to the GOP message. Add to that the limited appeal of the most visible Republicans in Washington and it’s clear why the statehouses are the place to watch for ’12.

Rick Perry is…

Rick Perry reflects on his priorities

Rick Perry reflects on his priorities

Here’s  a little political trivia question to give students.

Gubernatorial candidate Rick Perry is currently employed as …

Governor of Texas.

That’s right! In between campaign fundraisers and tea parties Rick Perry serves as the state’s current governor.

Campaign cash and appointments

The Houston Chronicle has put together an analysis that shows that Perry’s appointees accounted for about $4.9 million in campaign contributions to his campaign. The story points out that only about one in ten donors have given money to Perry. However, university regents account for about half of the donor-appointees.

Perry certainly would not be the first governor to lean toward donors. However, it’s always good to see the issue raised. I’d love to see details of the study.