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Austin American-Statesman: A Pattern of “Crony Capitalism” in the Legislature
Friday, 23 September 2011

Medina highlights questions of money and influence in Capitol
Piggybacking off the national attention being paid to Gov. Rick Perry’s 2007 vaccine mandate and his ties to the vaccine-maker’s lobbyist, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina and other advocates sought to shine the spotlight back on the Texas Capitol. ...They also highlighted the influence of homebuilder Bob Perry, who is one of Perry’s top campaign contributors. “It says something is wrong when one person can buy their own state agency and run it,” said Janet Ahmad, president of HomeOwners for Better Building, referring to the now-defunct Texas Residential Construction Commission that was created in 2003.

The Austin-Statesman
Medina highlights questions of money and influence in Capitol

Piggybacking off the national attention being paid to Gov. Rick Perry’s 2007 vaccine mandate and his ties to the vaccine-maker’s lobbyist, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina and other advocates sought to shine the spotlight back on the Texas Capitol.

“The fact that public policy is being written to provide market advantages to political donors rather than to promote a fair and just free market climate is at the heart of the economic crisis our nation faces today,” Medina said at a Capitol news conference on Thursday.

The critics said they wanted to show a pattern of “crony capitalism” in the Legislature that stretched beyond the HPV vaccine mandate that became a major presidential campaign issue last week. During a nationally televised debate, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann skewered Perry over his executive order requiring girls to get the vaccine against the human papillomavirus as well as his connections to Mike Toomey, the lobbyist for vaccine-maker Merck.

Perry’s 2007 mandate, which was later overturned by legislators, “exposed the cozy relationship between Merck and the governor’s office,” said Rebecca Rex of Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education.

But the coziness was not restricted to Merck, the critics said. Pointing to a meningitis vaccine mandate that was expanded earlier this year, Medina questioned whether that law was a function of good public health policy or the substantial contributions from drug company Novartis, which makes the meningitis vaccine.

They also highlighted the influence of homebuilder Bob Perry, who is one of Perry’s top campaign contributors.

“It says something is wrong when one person can buy their own state agency and run it,” said Janet Ahmad, president of HomeOwners for Better Building, referring to the now-defunct Texas Residential Construction Commission that was created in 2003.

But Medina said the solution was not stricter campaign finance rules or other limits intended to curb the influence of money in politics.

“We can create rules all day long and money and influence and the force of government are going to find a way around those rules,” Medina said.

“What we are doing here today is appealing to the better angels of their nature in the hopes that they recognize the injustices that have crept into our system of government,” Medina said.

 

Get more Legislative coverage inside the Virtual Capitol

http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/politics/entries/2011/09/22/medina_highlights_questions_of.html?cxtype=rss_news

 
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Reckless Endangerment
BY: GRETCHEN MORGENSON
and JOSHUA ROSNER

Outsized Ambition, Greed and
Corruption Led to
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