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Not-So-Spare Schedule

Gov. Rick Perry apparently keeps a more detailed schedule than what his office has previously released to the public. In what might have been a mistake, a more detailed version came out in response to an open records request from Democrat Bill White’s campaign.

It appears Gov. Rick Perry keeps a more detailed schedule than what his office has previously released this year. In what might have been a mistake by the governor’s office, Democrat Bill White’s campaign — through an open records request — received one day of Perry’s schedule that actually shows details not included in other publicly released governor’s schedules. The Sept. 15 schedule received by White’s campaign on Tuesday stands out for including typically omitted information like drive times to and from meetings, briefings with staff, names of staff members involved with each event and minute-by-minute breakdowns of what is set to happen at various Perry appearances. No other schedules released this year show that level of detail.

"We were shocked, first of all, that Rick Perry’s well-honed campaign political machine allowed this to happen," said Katy Bacon, spokeswoman for White. "This is clearly a mistake that they released this, because it’s unlike any other document we have — we have eight years of binders of his schedules … the longer he was governor the less he included. And now we see what he’s actually doing.” Calls and e-mails to the governor's office have not yet been returned; his campaign deferred to the government staff that keeps the records.

The Sept. 15 events were part of a larger batch of releases to the White campaign. (Compare Sept. 15's schedule versus the rest of Perry's publicly released schedules for the same week.)

When White first attacked Perry for his seemingly light work load, the governor said, “Just because it’s not written down on the schedule doesn’t mean I’m not out there working for the people of Texas.” But the one day released — or accidentally released, as the White campaign believes — shows that a lot is actually written down on the schedule after all.

Perry has maintained he works 24/7, and spokesman Mark Miner has said the governor’s official, public schedule does not include campaign events. White’s campaign believes the Tuesday release shows an actual accounting of the governor's days is kept out of public view. “The governor’s office has two sets of schedules,” Bacon said. “The real one, and the one that they want taxpayers to know about.”

“If there’s a schedule, it’s a public record. If it’s incomplete, then it’s a deception the people ought to be concerned about. … [A] document that gives a false impression is not a good practice,” Ken Bunting, the executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, told the Tribune in July.

When Perry was questioned about his spare schedule in an interview with WFAA-TV last month, he estimated he works “12 to 14 hours” a day, and further said, “I consider everything I’m doing state business.” His Sept. 15 schedule shows governor’s staff was tasked with briefing Perry on tort reform in advance of a political endorsement, and that two former gubernatorial appointees were listed as point persons at a roundtable and a dinner hosted for Perry at a Houston couple’s residence.

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Courts Criminal justice State government 2010 elections Griffin Perry Public Information Act Rick Perry