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The Brief: Oct. 1, 2010

The debate debate has come and gone (for now), but the appointment debates are here to stay.

Republican Rick Perry and Democrat Bill White

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

The debate debate has come and gone (for now), but the appointment debates are here to stay.

A staple of the bickering in this year's governor's race, talk of contributions influencing appointments re-entered the back-and-forth Thursday, with Democrat Bill White hitting Gov. Rick Perry for a report saying 21 percent of his donations have come from appointees.

The nonprofit Texans for Public Justice's report showed that since 2001, Perry has raised more than $17 million, out of $83 million total, from appointees to state boards and agencies.

“Did campaign contributions in any way influence decisions on board appointments?” White said Thursday at a press conference, according to The Associated Press. It "defies imagination," White said, that the state's most qualified individuals support the governor and belong to the Republican Party.

The Perry camp stood its usual ground, denying any conflicts of interest. "It shouldn’t be surprising that many of [Perry's appointees] share the same philosophy and goals for the state,” said spokesman Mark Miner, who called White hypocritical for having appointed a donor to head the Houston Metro board while White was the city's mayor.

White's campaign said Perry was trying to distract from real issues.

Texans for Public Justice issued the report with a cover depicting appointees kneeling before a lavish "King Perry." “With a decade of governing under his belt, Gov. Perry has transformed his appointment powers into a well-oiled patronage machine,” the report said.

CULLED:

  • The Tribune's Kate Galbraith has a rundown of the gubernatorial candidates' takes on energy issues.
  • U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., is said to have killed the bill that would have let the Houston-Galveston area keep $40 million in disaster relief funds, and Texas pols, even Tiahrt's fellow Republicans, aren't happy. "I'm greatly disappointed that this bipartisan legislation was obstructed by one person," said U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, according to the Houston Chronicle. "And he needs to step up and explain his actions to Texans and families in other impacted states."
  • The federal government has hit BP's Texas City refinery with a record $15 million fine for air pollution violations unrelated to the same refinery's release of hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals into the air earlier this year, for which the company also faces penalties.

"Not everyone, but enough of everyone, goes to the game so that it's a good place to have a party. And if you're having a party, why not ask for money?" — Lobbyist Bill Miller to the Austin American-Statesman on the annual Texas-Oklahoma football game in Dallas, which has become a draw for legislators and lobbyists in recent years

MUST-READ:

Countdown to the start of early voting: 17 days. Monday is the last day to register to vote.

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