Rick Perry: Transparency is Boring

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

On the campaign trail and on the web, Rick Perry touts a supposedly sterling record on transparency. But the facts don’t back him up. Last week, his office settled an ethics complaint accusing his campaign of hiding the fact that it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of campaign contributions spent on party supplies for the governor’s mansion. That wasn’t an isolated incident, Politico reports:

Though other states have email retention policies sometimes calling for deletion after 30 or 45 days, Texas’s seven-day period is possibly the briefest…The policy, a holdover from former President George W. Bush’s gubernatorial administration in Texas, calls on staffers to print out emails that might be covered by the Texas Public Information Act, but there’s no check on their judgment.

Perry also has refused to release a range of existing records that have been made public by both his predecessors in Texas and by governors of other states, including his daily schedule, his office’s reviews of death penalty cases—even lists of guests who stayed overnight at the governor’s mansion.

Bush not only released lists of overnight guests at the governor’s mansion during his governorship, including big donors, but during his 2000 presidential campaign, he released 3,125 pages of records detailing almost his entire schedule. It included everything from meetings with lobbyists and donors, to time spent reviewing death penalty cases, to his workout breaks.

Perry has also sought to keep secret his cozy ties with big donors, as well as details of past budget negotiations. This summer, the state legislature gave him an assist by passing a bill that will delay the release of information on his security detail’s travel records until after the 2012 election.

So does Perry think he has an openness problem? “I think we give so much information already that it is boring,” he said last October. Information-overload isn’t the issue. Perry doesn’t seem to get the basic point that destroying any traceable record of his public life suggests that he has something to hide.

More Mother Jones reporting on Dark Money


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend