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OpenSecrets Blog

New Dem Super PAC Created, Romney and Perry's Shared History and More in Capital Eye Opener: Sept. 22


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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for texas.jpgNEW SUPER PAC SPRINGS UP IN TEXAS: Money-in-politics reporter Michael Beckel passes along this nugget:

Not every super PAC with connections that run deep through the heart of Texas is working to help elect Republicans. Texans for America's Future, which filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission on Monday, has connections to Democratic politicos in the Lone Star State.

In its FEC paperwork, the group lists it treasurer as Jeffre Ward Rotkoff -- a man who, until last December, served as the executive director of Texas' House Democratic Campaign Committee. Rotkoff currently works as the executive director of the Texas First Foundation, a nonpartisan nonprofit advocacy organization based in Austin.

Rotkoff's only known federal-level campaign contributions came during the 2010 election cycle, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics, when he donated a total of $1,700 to incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Texas). Edwards ultimately lost his re-election battle to Republican William Flores by 25 percentage points.

According to his profile on Linkedin.com, Rotkoff previously worked as Edwards' field director between January 2004 and November 2004. And in 2005, he was the chief of staff to Democratic state Rep. Marc Veasey. He did not immediately respond to phone calls or emails by OpenSecrets Blog about his new organization.

On Wednesday, Rotkoff told Politico Influence that the primary goal of the new group is "deciding when, if and how to go forward," adding, "we're only 36-hours-old. We needed to have a vehicle to determine where to head from here."


Thumbnail image for mitt-romney-rick-perry-debate.jpgA HISTORY OF MITT AND RICK: Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry haven't always been bitter rivals, nor are they new or naive to the power of money in politics, The Daily Beast reports.

While still governor for Massachusetts in 2006, Romney chaired the Republican Governors Association, where he was charged with ensuring fellow Republican governors were re-elected. One of those governors was Perry, who was locked in a tight re-election race in Texas and in need of a financial lift. Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, a prolific political donor to GOP causes, was willing to be that extra boost.

But Gov. Perry didn't want to his assistance from homebuilder Perry to be highlighted, so it was arranged that the donation would go through the RGA, which would then send it to the governor's campaign. The Daily Beast reports that Romney was personally aware of this arrangement.

The resulting two $500,000 checks from Bob Perry weren't reported until after the election. Perry's Democratic opponent in the race sued Perry's campaign and the RGA. Perry's side settled out of court and the RGA has appealed a judge's fine of $2 million.


Most_Corrupt.pngCREW'S MOST CORRUPT IN CONGRESS: The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its report of 2011's most corrupt congressmen Tuesday. The report ranks one senator and 13 members of the U.S. House of Representatives as its "most corrupt." Additionally, five representatives made CREW's "Dishonorable Mention" list.

The "Most Corrupt" list's only senator this year is Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who previously made the list in 2007 for soliciting prostitutes. The report highlights allegations involving Vitter this time around for using his Senate funds to bankroll his aide's personal travel and paying said aide while on leave while he dealt with criminal charges. Additionally, the report notes that Vitter allegedly offered assistance to raise the salary of secretary of the Department of the Interior only if the Secretary Ken Salazar approved pending oil well permits.

Among the others on the list is Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), who is accused of purchasing a campaign donor's home at a $170,000 discount and taking a loan from another donor with no interest or payment schedule. Both actions indicate foul play, the report alleges.

Read more about these two men and the other lawmakers 
on CREW's "Most Corrupt" list here.

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