A civil case Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently settled before entering the race for the White House is raising red flags about the Texas governor just as his once-surging candidacy has hit some speed bumps.
The case focuses on Perry’s alleged attempt to cover up $1 million in contributions to his 2006 campaign, and whether the Republican Governors’ Association, which Perry later headed, was used as a conduit to camouflage the donations, according to a report by Murray Waas in Reuters. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Perry’s direct competitor for the GOP nomination, even has a cameo in the suit because he was chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association at the time.
On its face, the alleged original donation, made by Texas real estate mogul Bob Perry (no relation) of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth fame, wouldn’t have created any legal problems for Perry.
But, according to the lawsuit, Perry’s campaign was sensitive to criticism about the large-dollar donation from a sole contributor because it had just run an ad attacking Democratic opponent Chris Bell for accepting a big contribution from a single trial lawyer.
Chris Bell is the same Chris Bell that filed a complaint against former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) for threatening retaliation against his vote on the Medicare prescription drug bill. After a long House Ethics Committee investigation, DeLay was found guilty of several violations and admonished three times.
Waas published a story Wednesday night pointing out serious contradictions between the campaign’s sworn statements and two top Perry aides’ depositions. TPM obtained the depositions. You can read them here and here.
The article scrutinizes the sworn statements of David Carney, Perry’s closest longtime political strategist, and Deirdre Delisi, Perry’s chief of staff while governor, who now serves as a senior policy adviser on the presidential campaign, against the campaign’s sworn statements and finds some serious contradictions.
The sworn statement by Perry’s own campaign committee said that Delisi and Carney met with Romney in Washington D.C. on October 4, 2006, to discuss a last-minute contribution.
The campaign’s statement to the court said that when Delisi and Carney met with Romney on October 4 they were told that the RGA was about to receive $1 million from a Texas donor.
“Gov. Romney did not identify who the individual was, and [Texans for Rick Perry] had no knowledge prior to that time that any individual was planning to contribute $1 million to the RGA,” the statement said.
According to this document, it was only later that “Delisi connected with Bob Perry’s attorney Buddy Jones to ask whether Mr. Perry had contributed money to the RGA.” When Jones confirmed it, the statement continued,
“Delisi asked Mr. Jones to encourage the RGA to make some contributions in Texas since the RGA raised such significant funds in Texas.”
The statement also said that Carney had multiple conversations with the RGA, requesting $1 million and then a second $1 million.
“Toward the end of the campaign, Mr. Carney asked the RGA if it would contribute an additional $1 million for a total of $2 million,” it said.
But Delisi testified that she had no contact with the RGA about fundraising during the 2006 campaign while Carney testified about only one pitch for money from the RGA and made no mention of the meeting with Romney.
Reuters points out the inconsistencies, below.
Delisi, under oath in her deposition, said:
“When you were performing some campaign activities for the 2006 Perry campaign, did you interact in any way with the Republican Governors’ Association?” Delisi was asked in her January 8, 2009 deposition.
“No,” she answered, then added that she had been in contact with the RGA over scheduling some events.
“Were you involved in any way with soliciting any contributions made totaling a million dollars?” the lawyer added.
“No,” Delisi replied.
Delisi was then asked: “Are you familiar with anyone - do you know anyone who - that was involved in soliciting contributions from RGA to the Perry campaign in 2006, in - excuse me, in October 2006?”
“Yes. Toward the end of the campaign Dave Carney had conversations with the RGA about financial support as had been previously discussed earlier in the year.”
Delisi said she didn’t know whether anyone else in the campaign had contacts with the RGA.
Carney’s January 28, 2009 deposition painted a more muddled picture of the campaign’s interactions with the RGA. When he first asked the RGA for money, he said, “they laughed,” because Governor Perry appeared to be holding a comfortable lead.
Carney described an early-race strategy of asking for funds just in case the RGA ended up with extra cash, but he did not recall the date of the conversation and said it could have been as late as October, the month before the vote.
“[D]id you follow up on your request to the RGA after you asked them for the $2 million?” he was asked later in the deposition.
“I don’t think so,” Carney responded.
Asked about his knowledge of the late, $1 million contribution, Carney claimed ignorance.
“Did you ever know what they committed to give?”
The RGA’s executive director, Phil Musser “told me they were going to give us a million dollars,” Carney said, adding later that he learned of the contribution by seeing $1 million show up in campaign cash reports, rather than hearing at the time about the two $500,000 checks.
Asked when he became aware of those payments, Carney said, “I’m not sure. I honestly don’t know when it was.”