How do you know when you’re on really shaky ground when trying to justify what appears to anyone with a lick of common sense to be a craven and shameful maneuver in one’s own naked self-interest?
Gov. Rick Perry has sparked a wave of criticism, and some unanswered questions, after filing paperwork this week revealing that he is collecting both a salary and a pension from the state of Texas.
The Republican presidential candidate, who is trying to pull off an electoral surprise in Iowa, disclosed to the Federal Election Commission Thursday that he was earning a gross monthly retirement annuity of $7,698, or about $92,000 a year. Aides said the governor officially retired as a state employee in January but continues to draw his $150,000-a-year salary, and he expects to retire again with a higher pension as a member of the “elected class” when he leaves office.
Aides cited an obscure provision of the Texas Government Code, chapter 813.503, that they say allows him to legally draw full-time pay and then retire twice.
But critics are crying foul.
“We’ve never heard of this,” said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, a liberal watchdog group in Austin. “It’s a total shock that the governor is collecting a retirement while he’s making his big old gubernatorial salary.”
McDonald said the arrangement undermined Perry’s core campaign message about career politicians who profit from public service.
“He raises questions about excessive perks and the revolving door lobby and says he wants to cut Congressional salaries. This guy needs to look at his own front porch and clean it up before he goes after Washington,” McDonald said.
Citing obscure provisions – which is to say, claiming a loophole – is a pretty good clue that you’re deep into weasel territory. Did you notice that he’s been double dipping since January but the only reason anyone now knows about it is because of the more stringent federal financial disclosure requirements? Who knows when the public might have found out about this if Perry hadn’t let his ego get the best of him by pursuing the Presidency. You’d think if there were nothing dishonorable or unusual about this that Rick Perry might have informed us about it before he was compelled to do so.
There’s a case to be made that Perry has broken the law, or at the very least that he has in fact vacated the office of Governor, by his actions. I trust someone will pursue those lines of inquiry. Be that as it may, my fellow Democrats and I have long since lost our ability to be surprised by anything Perry does. We’re just wondering when the rest of you will catch up to us.