Rick Perry had never tasted political defeat until South Carolina. But what has the Texas Governor been doing since he ended his presidential bid? In the first 16 days since abandoning his presidential campaign, Gov. Rick Perry has been to his office just three times and stayed no longer than three hours each time, according to a published report. Citing Perry’s own state calendars, The Dallas Morning News reports Perry has barely returned to his Capitol office in Austin after spending almost six months away campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination.
In 11 of the days since, his schedule shows no state meetings, phone calls or other events. In the five days thereafter, he is shown engaging in 10 hours of state business. Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed says that, even though absent in body, Perry is tending to state business and that his office calendar doesn’t accurately reflect his pursuit of his duties.
The reality is probably more that Rick Perry sees the writing in the wall. It’s hard to imagine how Texans can stomach four more years of this self-serving, self enriching politician whose career path was built on our backs:
As Texas’ longest-serving governor, Perry has been embroiled in his share of controversies. Here is a synopsis of some of them:
Appointments: Perry often gives the state’s most prestigious appointments to major campaign donors. Read More
Convergen: A $4.5 million state grant, awarded outside the state’s usual review processes, landed in the hands of a company co-founded by a Perry contributor and close friend. Read More
Economic development funds: Perry is a champion of using taxpayer money to lure businesses to Texas, but critics point to links between the companies that get those grants and Perry’s campaign. Read More
Perry’s housing. Taxpayer costs associated with Perry’s rental home in western Travis County have sometimes totaled $10,000 per month. Read More
HPV: In 2007, Perry issued an order saying schoolgirls should be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus. A broad coalition of legislators criticized the order and Perry eventually abandoned it. Read More
Willingham criminal case: The state executed Cameron Todd Willingham in 2004 for setting a fire that killed his children, but the controversy over whether the state may have executed an innocent man has only grown in the years since. Read More
The AUSTIN STATESMAN contributed to this report.
Michael Berry might make a pretty drag queen! Who knows?
Years ago, in another life, I worked with Chris Baker at WIOD in Miami. Baker, an alumni of KTRH and KSEV jumped off the diving board into the world of right wing radio fanatics. A stand up comic and entertainer who has been known to say some pretty off the wall stuff, Chris Baker is funny, as in, entertaining. For some reason, Clear Channel communications, owners of KTRH pushed Chris Baker aside for the former City Councilman turned failed Mayoral candidate turned radio talk show host Michael Berry. Berry says some pretty off the wall stuff too, the difference is, he doesn’t always practice what he preaches and his hypocrisy is biting him in the ass.
Berry is something of a bizarre fixture in radio and political circles here in Houston. Check this out from the HOUSTON PRESS: Nine years ago, embattled right-wing radio host Michael Berry was a 32-year-old mayoral candidate. Tim Fleck wrote a feature on the fresh-faced city councilman and quixotic candidate (polling below 10 percent, Berry pulled out of the race less than a month after the story hit the street) and his Indian-born, high-achieving wife Nandita “Nandy” Venkateswaran in these pages, and some of it makes for odd reading today. First, for someone who has spent plenty of time bashing illegal immigrants on his radio show, Berry appears to have had no qualms accepting their money and building a business on their backs.
When Berry was a UH sophomore, Andrew Monzon, the leader of a small liberal-left campus group called the Progressive Student Network, put together a slate of candidates for the Student Association election, more as a lark than anything else. Their main point was protesting U.S. involvement in the first Gulf War, hardly an issue the Student Association could do much about. Berry, a candidate for president, offered him a deal: Monzon should run for senator, and then Berry would make him speaker of the association. Monzon says he knew that wouldn’t happen because Monzon was relatively unknown. So he insisted that if Berry wanted his support, then Monzon would have to be on the ticket as vice president. After some hesitation, Berry agreed.
Monzon remembers that even then, Berry had an aversion to political labels. The very title of their slate, Coalition for Immediate Action, defies specificity. Monzon recalls that Berry’s most significant action in office was a proposal to cut the Student Association budget, a painless move because the cuts wouldn’t go into effect until the following year. During the year Berry also successfully pushed for the creation of a student regent position. “Michael stood out as a person who always went to class and tried to chum up to the professors, sat in the front row, that kind of person,” says Monzon. “He’s intelligent — I’ll never slight him for that — but he’s always been slick, and you just take everything he says with a grain of salt.”
Monzon says the only problem he had with Berry came when several people started questioning overtime payments to Nandy, who by then had a job in the Student Association office. After Monzon raised the issue, he was targeted with a student senate proposal to eliminate his position as vice president. It didn’t pass, but he doesn’t think the timing was coincidental. He also jokes that at the time he had a reliable way to determine when Berry was telling the truth. “He had a horrible facial tic and you could easily tell when he was lying,” chuckles Monzon. “It was a blinking and twitching of the right eye. I don’t know if he ever noticed or anyone pointed it out to him, but it became a bit of a joke with us. Like, ‘Uh-oh, look at Michael’s face.’ “
I have worked beside some tremendously successful people. Randi Rhodes, the late Neil Rogers, Baker and others. What sets Berry apart from them is that you cannot believe anything he says. Berry is disingenuous…a fraud…who says one thing while living life on the down-low. Neil Rogers, a vehement liberal from the Miami radio market was once caught masturbating in an adult movie theater. Instead of destroying Neils career, it arguably helped it. Why? Regardless of what you thought if Neil’s persona, he was real. What you heard on the air was what you got. An admitted sports-loving, homosexual, who never shied from the issues.
Two things will get you on my naughty list faster than anything else. Hate and hypocrisy. Over the weekend, Hosuton talk show host Michael Berry was outed at a drag queen bar in Montrose after he allegedly crashed his SUV into someone’s car. I don’t care if Michael Berry is gay except for the fact that he mocks gays on his rancid right wing radio show, makes fun of Houston’s lesbian Mayor and is, basically, a hypocrite. It turns out Berry is not the only hypocrite outed this weekend.
A nationally known sheriff resigned from presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s Arizona committee and acknowledged he was gay amid allegations of misconduct made by a man with whom he previously had a relationship. But Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu vowed Saturday to continue his bid for the GOP nomination in Arizona’s rural 4th Congressional District race. He denied claims he tried to threaten the man, a Mexican immigrant and a former campaign volunteer, with deportation if their past relationship was made public. The man’s allegations were first published Friday in the Phoenix New Times, an alternative weekly magazine.
Babeu, a first-term sheriff who has gained widespread attention with his strong opposition to illegal immigration and smuggling, said the accusations were an attempt to hurt his political career. He said he had called presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s staff to say he would step down from his post as state campaign co-chair. “This whole rumor, this whole of idea of who I am in my private life has been shopped around,” Babeu told reporters during an hour-long press conference Saturday in front of his sheriff’s office. “This was a way, the hook, of how this could be brought out, and to malign and attack a sheriff who does stand for conservative principals, who does enforce the law.”
The man’s lawyer, Melissa Weiss-Riner, released a statement Saturday saying the man retained her firm’s services because he was contacted by Babeu’s attorney and “felt intimidated.” “Jose continues to live in fear, and is currently in the process of moving again,” she said. “Therefore, he is not available to speak with the media at this time.” Weiss-Riner earlier told the New Times that Babeu’s attorney and campaign consultant falsely told her client that his visa had expired. Babeu told reporters he believed the man, identified only by his first name Jose, was living in the country legally.
The New Times posted a photo provided by the man of the two embracing. It also posted a cellphone self-portrait of a smiling Babeu in his underwear and another of what appears to be the shirtless sheriff in a bathroom, posted on a gay dating website. The man provided the magazine with photos of himself and Babeu and text messages between the two. Babeu didn’t deny their authenticity. The huge congressional district where Babeu is seeking election runs from western Arizona all the way to the desert south of Phoenix. Its voters are heavily Republican and generally very conservative.
Babeu issued a sweeping denial of any wrongdoing in front of his headquarters. The press conference was attended by about three dozen high-ranking uniformed deputies, local elected officials and citizens. “I’m here to say that all the allegations that were in the story were untrue — except for the instance that refers to me as gay,” Babeu said. “That’s the truth — I am gay.” He said he didn’t have the power as a local sheriff to get anyone deported. Babeu, who is not married, said he had been in a relationship with Jose that ended sometime before September. Jose also ran his campaign website and Twitter account, and Babeu said he began posting derogatory items on the sites after their breakup.
Babeu said he had his lawyer contact Jose and demand that he stop and turn over passwords allowing access to the sites. Babeu said the postings and actions amounted to identity theft but that he chose to deal with the matter privately through his lawyer. Weiss-Riner’s statement Saturday said that as a campaign volunteer, Jose created and maintained several websites and accounts at Babeu’s request from approximately 2008 through late 2011. She did not elaborate. It’s wasn’t immediately clear if Babeu’s admission would hurt him politically, but his primary opponents came out swinging.
Babeu is taking on an incumbent tea party Republican who switched districts, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, and state Sen. Ron Gould, a conservative from northwestern Arizona, in August’s 4th District primary. Gould said he believed Babeu’s posting of pictures on what the lawmaker called a “homosexual hookup website” were a “Congressman Weiner type of moment.” “The real issue here is the poor judgment of a government official, posting those kinds of photos on a public website,” Gould said. “I think that shows a lack of good judgment.” He also said he believes Babeu’s sexual orientation would hurt him in the district. Gould sponsored Arizona’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, an amendment he said drew extremely strong support in the rural counties he and Babeu seek to represent.
“This is about an abuse of power, a misuse of public trust, bad judgment and the continued use of official resources for personal and political gain,” Gosar said in a statement that noted the location of the press conference and the large gathering of uniformed sheriff’s personnel at the event. Babeu said he has never defined himself based on his ethnicity or sexual orientation, and he would continue to focus on unemployment and the federal deficit in his campaign. “What I’m trying to do is (be) as forthright as possible, talking about deeply personal, private matters, and trying to be upfront,” Babeu said. “The disclosure of that information is something that I feel no American should have to do.” Babeu acknowledged that he has sent and posted the photos, but said they were personal. When asked if posting such pictures on a public website showed poor judgment for a public official, he reiterated that he believed they were personal.
Evangelical Republicans will have fits over this stuff, for the rest of us, it’s more a matter of hypocrisy I suspect. Gay marriage and immigration are hot button issues that can quickly deride otherwise good candidates for election.