Former Rick Perry Chief of Staff Led Effort to Get Green Party on Ballot to Siphon Votes From Democrats – A witness testified under oath that a top member of Rick Perry’s inner circle paid him about $12,000 to convince Green Party of Texas leaders to participate in an elaborate ballot petition scam. Mike Toomey, a former Rick Perry Chief of Staff, paid Garrett Mize, a 22-year-old University of Texas student, from his personal checking account, to present a formal proposal to Green Party leaders. The proposal suggests using out-of-state funds to gather signatures needed to field candidates in the upcoming Texas election. The memo notes that, “many of the donors will be people that simply do not want to see the Democratic Party win.” The proposal by Mize can be seen here.
The morning testimony left it unclear what happened after the original plan proposed by Mize fell apart. A second plan was formulated just two weeks before the deadline to turn in ballot petitions. This second plan funneled $532,500 in corporate money to pay for the effort to gather signatures for the Green Party in order to qualify candidates for the Texas ballot. Documents and testimony in the coming days should reveal whether Toomey masterminded this plan as well.
Gov. Rick Perry Broke His Promise That He Would Not Accept a Nearly $35,000 Pay Increase – In 2007, Texas lawmakers included raises for eight top officials, including the governor, in the budget bill for fiscal years 2008 and 2009, according to a Dallas Morning News article published June 7, 2007. Rick Perry signed the legislation into law June 15, 2007, according to information from the Legislature’s Web site. In the law, the governor’s annual salary was set to jump 30 percent, from $115,345 to $150,000 — an increase of $34,655.
Robert Black, then a spokesman for the governor, was quoted in the June 2007 Morning News article saying Perry would not accept the pay raise when it kicked in that September, the start of the state’s fiscal year: “He hasn’t taken a pay raise and doesn’t think it’s necessary.”
Perry’s take-home state pay — meaning wages subject to federal income taxes — increased from $103,320 in 2006 to $111,361 in 2007 and $135,925 in 2008, according to his tax returns for those years, which he has made public. Bob Martin, a Houston accountant who studied Perry’s tax returns at the request of an Associated Press reporter, told Politifact the amount of taxes that were withheld from Perry’s pay in 2008 indicated that his gross salary was $150,000. He speculated that the difference between Perry’s taxable wages and his gross salary could be explained by pre-tax deductions such as retirement contributions; such deductions would be on Perry’s W-2 form. Politifact found no sign of Perry making his W-2s public.
Perry’s spokeswoman told Politifact he’s made charitable donations exceeding the additional dollars that came his way in the raise. But that’s not the same as not accepting the raise in the first place. That money was taken from the state treasury that Perry says he is protecting.
Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert Warns Of Baby Terrorists – Speaking on the House floor last night, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) continued his assault on common sense by making the generally nonsensical claim that terrorists were recruiting pregnant women in order for them to have U.S.-born children who would, several decades from now, attack the United States and “destroy our way of life.” Gohmert made the comments while discussing border security and Arizona’s controversial new immigration law.
Fox Business’ Solution to Financial Crisis: Tax the Poor More – A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office shows that the gap between the richest one percent of earners in the US and the middle class has more than tripled since 1979.
But that didn’t stop Fox Business host Cheryl Casone from using the report as the basis of her proposed solution to the US’s mushrooming budget deficit: Increase taxes on the poor.
In a discussion on the CBO report (PDF), which showed that 40 percent of income tax filers ended up paying no federal income tax in 2007, Casone argued that fixing this “imbalance” would solve the federal debt problem.
(Yeah, just take some from the people who don’t have hardly anything. – JLV)
US Supreme Court Hands Major Victory to Big Tobacco – The US Supreme Court gave a substantial victory to major tobacco firms Monday, rebuffing an appeal that would have allowed the government to pocket 280 billion dollars of their profits. The decision not to hear the case dealt a potentially fatal blow to long-running government efforts to penalize tobacco firms for 50 years of allegedly deceptive practices aimed at getting people hooked on smoking.
Former president Bill Clinton’s administration launched the original suit in 1999, seeking 280 billion dollars in allegedly ill-gotten gains and another 10 billion dollars to fund an expanded anti-smoking campaign.
Supreme Court Weakens Key Anti-Corruption Law – The US Supreme Court Thursday set aside part of Enron boss Jeffrey Skilling’s fraud conviction, saying it was “flawed” and unconstitutional.
“Because the indictment alleged three objects of the conspiracy, honest-services wire fraud, money-or-property wire fraud, and securities fraud,” Skilling’s conviction “is flawed,” the ruling said.
Also, the US Supreme Court on Thursday set aside the corporate fraud conviction of Anglo-Canadian media mogul Conrad Black and sent the case back to a lower court. Black, 64, who once headed the world’s third-largest media empire, was convicted in July 2007 of stealing millions of dollars from the sales of newspapers being off-loaded by Hollinger International.
Oil Company Guilty in Deaths of 1,600 Ducks – An Alberta judge found Syncrude Canada Ltd., the biggest producer in Canada’s oil sands, guilty on Friday of charges stemming from the deaths of 1,600 ducks that landed on a toxic tailings pond in northern Alberta in 2008. Syncrude faces a maximum fine of $769,000 in the case, which heightened international concern about the environmental impact of developing the oil sands, the largest crude-oil source outside the Middle East.
Orcas and Dolphins Going Blind and Insane in Captivity – Orcas and dolphins may swim up to 100 miles a day in the ocean, but in captivity, most are kept in 60-foot tanks. The chlorine and other harsh chemicals used to keep the tanks clean causes some dolphins to go blind and even makes their skin peel off. Captive marine mammals often develop ulcers from the stress of being gawked at for long periods of time each day. And because dolphins navigate by echolocation–bouncing sonar waves off other objects to determine shape, density, distance, and location–the reverberations from their own sonar bouncing off the tank walls drives some dolphins insane.
BP ‘Burning Sea Turtles Alive’ -A rare and endangered species of sea turtle is being burned alive in BP’s controlled burns of the oil swirling around the Gulf of Mexico, and a boat captain tasked with saving them says the company has blocked rescue efforts. Mike Ellis, a boat captain involved in a three-week effort to rescue as many sea turtles from unfolding disaster as possible, says BP effectively shut down the operation by preventing boats from coming out to rescue the turtles.
“They ran us out of there and then they shut us down, they would not let us get back in there,” Ellis said in an interview with conservation biologist Catherine Craig.