Rick Perry Is on the Payroll of His Super-PAC’s Biggest Sugar Daddy

The GOP candidate is on the board of a pipeline company whose CEO is spending millions to get him elected president.

Brian Cahn/ZUMA

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.


Rick Perry’s fundraising for his second presidential campaign is off to a tepid start. Last week, his campaign announced a $1.07 million haul since Perry officially declared his candidacy at the beginning of June. Though he entered the race later than some of the other GOP candidates, that’s far lower than the amounts raised by some of his rivals including Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson.

Things were a bit better for Perry on the super PAC front, where a trio of interlocking groups supporting his campaign claimed $16.8 million in donations, according to CNN. The largest donor to this outside spending effort is the billionaire owner of a Texas pipeline company that also happens to write Rick Perry’s paycheck.

As Mother Jones reported last month, Perry is still sitting on the corporate board of Energy Transfer Partners, even after making his presidential campaign official. Perry had joined the board of the oil and natural gas pipeline company in early February, shortly after leaving the Texas governor’s office. Politicians typically step down from such jobs before launching a presidential bid to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, but Perry’s kept his board spot while hitting the campaign trail. While the company isn’t willing to disclose his salary for the board spot, past Securities and Exchange Commission records show that the job has recently come with about $50,000 in compensation.

But Energy Transfer Partners’ CEO Kelcy Warren is putting far more money into Perry’s presidential ambitions. According to CNN, Warren accounts for $6 million of Perry’s super PAC donations to date. Warren—worth $6.7 billion according to Forbes—chipped in just $250,000 to the pro-Perry super PAC in 2012, but he is clearly more invested in Perry’s second campaign. In addition to ponying up the most money for the super PAC’s, Warren is working for the official campaign as its finance chairman.

More MotherJones reporting on Dark Money

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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

Latest