Abramoff Connection To Perry, Craddick And DewhurstIf you don't think the Abramoff story is having an effect just check out this story, Lobbyist for state tied to Abramoff. Early in the article we find this out:
Todd Boulanger, who once worked closely with confessed influence peddler Jack Abramoff, now heads a group lobbying Congress for Texas under a $330,000 state contract.You may say well I'm sure the state has been hiring lobbyists to lobby the Texas congressional delegation forever. You'd be wrong:
Boulanger and his firm, Cassidy & Associates, were hired by the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations under a contract approved by Gov. Rick Perry, House Speaker Tom Craddick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
The Office of State-Federal Relations has existed since the 1960s, but had no outside lobbyists until Perry's administration began hiring them in 2003.What does the governor have to say about this, or his spokesperson?
Walt said both Boulanger's lobbying team and that of Maloney work in harmony with the Republican-dominated congressional delegation for the benefit of Texas. She said Boulanger's team has been helpful in getting funding into legislation to reimburse Texas for costs associated with Hurricane Katrina.Really? Speaker Craddick, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst what do y'all say?
"If paying $500,000 to a firm ... gets Texas $50 million in aid in one bill, that's a good return on our money," Walt said.
Craddick has said Perry was the one who picked Maloney and that he opposes hiring state-paid lobbyists. Craddick spokeswoman Alexis DeLee said the speaker knew nothing about the hiring of Cassidy & Associates.Are they trying to distance themselves from the governor on this? I guess they didn't see it as such a good deal? It was all the governor's idea! Of course Craddick had to say that with all the grief he's been giving school districts for using lobbyists.
Dewhurst spokesman Mark Miner said the lieutenant governor's staff was informed of the Boulanger hiring but played no role in the choice.
State Rep. Jim Dunnam is speaking for the Democrats on this issue:
"It's cronyism at its worst," said Texas House Democratic Caucus Chairman Jim Dunnam of Waco. "All these guys are connected to one another."I think the main thing here is why does a Republican governor, speaker and lt. gov. have to hire a Republican lobby firm to lobby Republican congressional representative? You know they weren't lobbying Democrats. I think Dunnam is right, "It's cronyism at its worst,".
"What do we have 32 congressmen for? They are up there to advocate for the best interests of the state of Texas," Dunnam said. "The governor definitely ought to cancel that contract."
Dunnam said even if a bidding process was used in the contracting, the ultimate decision on whom to hire was political. Dunnam said it would be in keeping with DeLay's "K Street Project," a Republican plan to hire only former GOP congressional aides as lobbyists.