Rick Perry's Three Million Dollar Bonus: It May All Be Perfectly Legal, But It Still Stinks

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What do you do if you're limited to $25,000 contributions from one donor in your state and you need a lot more money to wipe out your Democratic opponent? Here's what:

  • Look for a state where PACs can accept unlimited contributions for campaigns. Michigan is one such state.
  • Set up a PAC called RGA Michigan PAC as a conduit to receive and transmit contributions to out-of-state candidates in unlimited amounts.
  • Wait until October 1, 2010, and send over $3 million dollars to Texas Governor Rick Perry's campaign as an extra added boost for the final month.

Donors to the RGA-MI PAC include Bob Perry ($1,000,000), contributions from investment and hedge fund managers adding up to over $1,000,000 as well as contributions from companies ranging from Pharma to New Balance shoes. Here's the whole list.

At first blush it seemed to me like another Tom Delay situation, where one committee was laundering contributions from corporations to make them acceptable under Texas law. But as you can see from the list, each contribution comes from an individual rather than a corporation, and those funds were then aggregated and transferred to Rick Perry's campaign and the Michigan Republican Party.

These transactions are on top of $5.4 million received by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and given to the Republican Governor's Association. Because the Michigan Chamber isn't required to disclose their donations, there's no way to know who pushed so much money into their bank account, but it's unprecedented.

Via the Michigan Campaign Finance Network:

“The Michigan Chamber of Commerce has been aggregating contributions from anonymous donors for candidate-focused electioneering advertisements since the 2000 state election,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “They’ve spent millions of dollars for television advertisements that sought to define political candidates’ suitability for office, and they reported nothing about the sources whose contributions paid for those ads.”

“What is new in 2010 is that the Chamber’s primary financial purpose now appears to be aggregating contributions to give to the Republican Governors Association, an organization whose purpose is to promote the election of candidates for public office. The Chamber’s function as a business association is secondary, financially, to its role as a political fund aggregator.”

Rick Perry is clearly a major beneficiary of the new opaque RGA under Haley Barbour's management. It may all be legal as far as the letter of the law goes, but it's sure as hell not moral.

If it looks like a pig, smells like a pig and oinks like one, chances are, it is a pig.

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