Close Close Comment Creative Commons Donate Email Add Email Facebook Instagram Mastodon Facebook Messenger Mobile Nav Menu Podcast Print RSS Search Secure Twitter WhatsApp YouTube

In Some States, Controversy Flares Over Donations From Political Appointees

Gubernatorial races in Texas and Illinois heat up over questions about the connections between political appointees and campaign cash.

A study released today by a Texas watchdog group has found that more than a fifth of the campaign cash collected by Republican Gov. Rick Perry has come from his political appointees.

According to the study [PDF], produced by the nonprofit Texans for Public Justice, Perry’s political appointments have supplied him with more than $17 million since 2001. The study’s findings add to earlier reporting by The Houston Chronicle and The Texas Tribune, which found millions in campaign cash flowing to Perry from individuals he had appointed to govern state universities.

The Tribune also noted that Perry’s Democratic opponent, former Houston mayor Bill White, has criticized the governor for accepting contributions from appointees, but has raised nearly $2 million from his own appointees over the years.

While the link between contributions and political appointments isn’t proof of wrongdoing, it often raises concerns about the appearance of quid pro quo — regardless of whether any such arrangement exists.

On Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune raised similar concerns in Illinois when it reported that nearly 10 percent of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s political appointees have also been a source of campaign contributions.

By the Tribune’s count, Quinn has received 77 donations connected to appointments he made since becoming governor in January 2009, and at least 20 of those donations came within two months of the appointment. The Tribune also noted that relative to the contributions from appointees accepted by his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, Quinn’s have tended to be smaller.

The Illinois governor told the Tribune that he doesn’t consider campaign donations when making an appointment. "I never have, never will,” he said.

Perry and White have repeated similar refrains.

White’s campaign earlier told the Tribune that he does not consider donations when making appointments.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner told The Associated Press that the governor makes appointments based on qualifications. His campaign has charged White with hypocrisy.

Latest Stories from ProPublica

Current site Current page