When I visited Houston recently, the Perry Homes signs were everywhere. Bob Perry runs Perry Homes, which is among the state's largest homebuilders at $420 million in revenues in 2002. Perry is also widely known as the man who funded the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads that are credited in some quarters with thwarting John Kerry's presidential bid.
Perry is a long-time conservative political giver. According to Texans for Public Justice, he was the largest 2002 giver to Tom DeLay's TRMPAC at $165,000.
Monday, a report by Campaigns for People and released by a coalition of Texas groups singles him out as the financial force behind Texas laws that benefit homebuilders and destroy the American dream of home ownership.
Taken together, Perry's $6.9 million to state candidates over the last two cycles, and his gift to elect lawmakers sympathetic to DeLay's redistricting agenda (all GOP), is a one-two punch that adds up to favorable laws enacted on his behalf. This ought to be illegal.
This begs the question: How much can those who are struggling to scrape together a downpayment on a $80,000 or $100,000 home afford to give to politicians? Not much. But affordable housing is a critical issue in all of Houston, and particularly in DeLay's suburban district. Politicians turn a deaf ear to these constituents at their own peril. Perhaps that's why Houston Mayor Bill White just announced an affordable housing program to foreclose on tax deliquent properties, convert them to affordable housing in order to stem the gentrification that forces low income workers out of the city so far from where their jobs are in downtown Houston. (Thanks to Off the Kuff for the link.) It's an issue ACORN in Houston has been working to address, though I don't know what their take is on White's proposal.
We'll be following additional DeLay/Perry links, including the $284,300 he gave to federal candidates, political action committees, and national political parties since the 2000 election cycle. Yes, there is $10,000 to Delay's ARMPAC, the national model for TRMPAC.