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Rick Perry is most famous for his “Oops” Moment when he was unable to remember three things while speaking during the Republican Debate.
The third agency of government Perry couldn’t remember, but wanted to eliminate was energy. Now that Trump has tapped Perry to be his Energy Secretary, everyone is talking about whether Perry will eliminate the very agency he has been designated to run. What people should be talking about was Trump’s remarks suggesting that Rick Perry should have to take an IQ test.
Have people forgotten what Rick Perry called Donald Trump? Perry said Trump was a candidate who was:
“propelled by anger”
“appealing to the worst instincts in the human condition”
“he provides a barking carnival act that can best be described as Trumpism”
“a toxic mix of demagoguery and mean spiritedness that will lead the Republican Party to perdition”
“Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be diagnosed, excised , and discarded.”
Now that Trump has won the nomination, it seems Perry has become part of the tumor that is growing in America. It’s called the Donald Trump administration. It doesn’t seem to matter what was previously said about Trump. Now that Trump is in power, Republicans seem to have forgotten what they said and thought about Donald Trump. Trump seems to have forgotten that Rick Perry was under indictment for abuse of power.
Even more problematic than Perry’s previous remarks about Trump, is the blatant conflict of interest Perry has regarding the energy sector in America.
The Dakota Access Pipeline Project is a new approximate 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline that will connect the rapidly expanding Bakken and Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The pipeline will enable domestically produced light sweet crude oil from North Dakota to reach major refining markets. The pipeline is estimated to transport approximately 470,000 barrels per day, with a capacity as high as 570,000 barrels per day. Shippers will be able to access multiple markets, including the Texas crude oil terminal facility of Sunoco Logistics Partners.
Trump’s nomination of Perry comes despite Perry’s ties to the Dakota Access pipeline battle. He sits on the corporate board for Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access LLC, which is pushing to build the pipeline.
While the Obama administration blocked the Dakota Access Pipeline easement through Lake Oahe, the Trump administration likely would go in a different direction.
The president-elect, has previously invested in Energy Transfer Partners, and supports the pipeline. Now the department will be helmed by a man whose biggest fan — as measured by donations supporting Perry’s presidential bids — is Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the controversial pipeline. Warren gave super PACs supporting Perry’s presidential bid $6 million last year, though he got nearly $4.5 million of it back after Perry dropped out.
And beyond that, Perry is on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners — a position he would have to relinquish if he’s to become secretary.
His biggest outside backer, Make Us Great Again (sound familiar?), spent almost $4 million trying to get Perry to the White House, with large donations coming from Dallas-based Contran Corp., formerly headed by now-deceased GOP funder Harold Simmons ($1 million); Kelcy Warren and Darwin Deason again ($250,000 each); and trial lawyer Tony Buzbee (also $250,000), who became Perry’s general counsel two years later when a grand jury indicted him on two felony counts.
Perry’s personal holdings also reflect his comfort level with the fossil fuel industry. The financial disclosure form he filed in July 2015 indicated that his wife owned up to $15,000 in Energy Transfer stock, along with the same amount of another pipeline company and of Sunoco Logistics, the future operator of the pipeline being protested at Standing Rock. (According to Reuters, Sunoco Logistics outdoes all its competitors in spilled crude.)
Perry himself has stock in QR Energy, Gray Rock Energy and other companies in the oil and gas industry.
Perry joined ETP in February 2015, shortly after he left the governor’s office. As Mother Jones reported last summer, he kept his spot on the company’s board even as he launched a presidential campaign. According to SEC filings, ETP paid Perry $236,820 in 2015. In the past, Perry’s business entanglements would have represented an unusual conflict of interest for a presidential candidate, but in this election cycle, they were overshadowed by Trump’s massive web of conflicts.
Perry’s ties to the company proved beneficial to his brief presidential campaign last year. At the same time Perry sat on the board, ETP CEO Kelcy Warren poured millions of dollars into Perry’s political ambitions. Warren was involved in both Perry’s official and unofficial campaign organizations. He served as the official campaign’s finance chairman, and he chipped in $6 million to super-PACs backing Perry.
Perry has been a vocal advocate for the Dakota Access Pipeline. In early 2015—just days before he joined ETP’s board and four months before he officially launched his presidential bid—Perry said on local Iowa TV that he favored building the pipeline, which would pass through Iowa if completed. “We probably have as safe a pipeline industry in the country as there is in the world,” he boasted.
The Energy Department plays no formal role in approving pipeline construction. But as a Cabinet-level official, Perry could have a voice in administration decisions on these areas. That’s a red flag for opponents of the project. “As a Cabinet member with presumably a significant financial stake in ETP, I think the burden should be on him to formally recuse himself from any discussions about the pipeline,” Phillip Ellis of Earthjustice, which represents activists attempting to block the pipeline, said by email.
On February 3, two weeks after ending his term as governor, Perry took a position on the corporate board of Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas-based pipeline company that transports natural gas and crude oil. “The Board selected Mr. Perry to serve as a director because of his vast experience as an executive in the highest office of state government,” ETP’s website says. “In addition, Mr. Perry has been involved in finance and budget planning processes throughout his career in government as a member of the Texas House Appropriations Committee, the Legislative Budget Board and as Governor.”
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ETP said Perry could “receive cash compensation” as well as “equity compensation.” The company declined to disclose how much Perry will be paid for the gig and isn’t required to file disclosures revealing that figure until next year, but in the past the post has come with about $50,000 in annual salary. “You can expect compensation to be along the same lines as what was [last] reported,” an ETP spokesperson wrote in an email to Mother Jones.
Yesterday, one of the readers of this blog mentioned an article written by Andrew Halcro. The article was written on April 27, 2009, months before Palin announced her resignation as the Governor of Alaska. What is amazing is that his article, written a year ago, is that it portended what the rest of the country would not know until July of 2009, that Sarah Palin would inexplicably quit her position as Governor only two and half years into her term.
Mr. Halcro has been a resident of Alaska since 1965. Unlike Palin, Mr. Halcro attended an in-state school at the University of Alaska and later attended Harvard Business School in 2004. As a resident of Alaska, and intimately involved in Alaskan politics, Halcro knew Palin long before most of us had heard her name. Mr. Halcro, unlike Palin, served Alaska as a member of the Alaskan House of Representatives from 1999-2003 before and running as an Independent for Governor in 2006 against Palin.
According to Wikipedia, while in the Alaskan House of Representatives, Halcro earned a reputation as a maverick. Mr. Halcro was known for his outspoken criticism of Alaska’s dependency on government funding. He was known for publically criticizing other Republican legislators for holding closed caucuses. Halcro ran on the platform of honesty and competency, which included fiscal responsibility, campaign finance reform, eliminating cronyism in government and constructing a natural gas pipeline. (Does this sound familiar?)
Since losing his gubernatorial bid, Halcro has used his blog to discuss Alaskan political issues including the Governor’s administration, the State Legislature, Anchorage politics, and state and national election issues. In a blog post titled “Why Walt Monegan got fired: Palin’s abuse of power”, Halcro criticized Palin for firing the state’s Public Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan. Halcro was the first person to suggest the connection between the firing and Palin’s ex-brother-in-law. Mr. Halcro’s criticism of Palin was later determined to be both revealing and accurate. A bipartisan Alaskan legislative committee determined that:
“Gov. Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda.”
In the article entitled “Re-Election 2010: Why Palin bails out” Halcro predicted that Palin would not run for a second term as Governor. He explained: “Palin’s focus is not on Alaska but on herself. If Palin commits to a four year term then runs for president anyway, she’ll be crucified by her opponents as a liar and yet another politician who will say anything to get elected.”
Halcro identified several failings of Palin in the short time she served as Governor but they all related to her failed energy policies. Halcro explained that if Palin did not seek re-election she would be able to simply shift blame to someone else. Additionally Alaska had a fast growing senior demographic which would put strains on Alaska’s health care system. Finally her bad business decisions made as a result of “cronyism” would become evident. Halcro cites the Agriculture Board, where questionable state loans were made to the Valley Creamery (a local dairy run by Palin’s friends and neighbors). Finally Halcro explains that if Palin should run for re-election, she might be defeated. When McCain tapped Palin he sold her as the most popular politician in the United States. Ibid. Halcro knew in April that Palin’s popularity had suffered significantly. What he could not have known when he wrote his article, was that 2 ½ months later when Palin resigned as Governor, her approval ratings had fallen even lower. Palin’s popularity dropped from an 89% approval rating in May of ’07 to 54% in May of ’09.
Until reading this article, I assumed Palin had resigned her position as Governor simply because she was anxious to take advantage of the financial rewards associated with her new celebrity status. I knew that her popularity had declined at a sharp and steady pace since taking office. However I didn’t fully appreciate the total failure of her leadership as Governor of Alaska. As the mayor of Wasilla, Palin was a total failure, leaving the small town of Wasilla in debt to the tune of 22 million dollars. When Palin took office as mayor, Wasilla had a total debt of around 1 million dollars. If Palin could facilitate this amount of debt in her short time as mayor of Wasilla, and later as Governor of Alaska, imagine the possibilities if she were ever to become the President of the United States.