Perry campaign paid Bell to settle suit over ’06 race
Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign paid former Democratic challenger Chris Bell more than $400,000 earlier this year to settle a lawsuit alleging that Perry did not properly identify his campaign contributors when he beat Bell in 2006.
The $426,000 payment to Bell was revealed Friday when the Texas Ethics Commission posted Perry’s latest campaign finance report.
Asked to explain why the Perry campaign settled with Bell, Perry spokesman Mark Miner said, “Due to the unnecessary cost and time factors of litigation, both parties have decided to pursue other strategies.” He declined to elaborate on those other strategies.
Bell alleged that Houston homebuilder Bob Perry tried to hide a $1 million contribution to Rick Perry (no relation) late in the 2006 campaign by sending it to the Republican Governors Association, which then sent $1 million to Perry.
Bell named the Perry campaign and the governors association in his lawsuit. Because the campaign did not properly identify the group on state finance reports, donors to the governors’ group were not properly disclosed to the public, Bell alleged. Perry’s lawyers have previously said that, at worst, Perry made a reporting error.
Perry’s campaign is no longer part of the
Continued from A1 lawsuit, presumably because it settled with Bell. Buck Wood, Bell’s lawyer, would not discuss the case against Perry.
But Bell is still suing the governors’ group, alleging that it did not take all of the steps required by state law before contributing to Perry’s campaign. The suit is currently be- fore state District Judge John Dietz, an Austin Democrat.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Governors Association is taking a much more active role in this year’s Texas race as Perry tries to fend off a challenge from ex-Houston Mayor Bill White, a Democrat. The group has given White more than $1.5 million since February.
The Democratic governors’ group is getting major help from Texas trial lawyers. Steve Mostyn of Houston sent the group $400,000 last month, and Beaumont trial lawyer Walter Umphrey sent $225,000. The Houston law firm Williams Kherkher Hart Boundas sent $125,000 in May.
Whereas the Bell lawsuit alleged that Perry did not properly report contributions from the governors’ group in 2006, White spokeswoman Katy Bacon said White’s campaign made the required disclosures when his out-of-state money came in. The Ethics Commission confirmed that the proper reports were filed.
Mostyn said he contributed to the governors’ group to show other donors from around the country that Texas Democrats believe the White-Perry race is winnable.
“One of the first questions out-of-state donors will ask is,
Chris Bell received a $426,000 payment.