Texas Gov. Rick Perry likes to pretend that he's leading an insurgent battle against a tyrannical federal government, even going so far as to flirt with secessionists. Now the Republican presidential candidate is also trying to persuade voters that he wants to crack down on elected officials who use their office and political connections for financial gain. He will likely regret bringing up the subject. A new ad for Perry's presidential campaign insists that officeholders who use “insider knowledge to profit in the stock market” should be thrown in jail. But the Texas Tribune reports that longtime observers of the governor say his career "is peppered with instances in which his personal and political relationships became entangled in ways that helped him profit financially." Read More

The Texas Tribune this morning published what is the most complete account to date of what happened last weekend when Gov. Rick Perry traveled to Fredericksburg to attend a confab of social conservatives hosted by the so-called "sugar daddy" of the far right in Texas, Dr. James Leininger. Read More

When one discusses Gov. Rick Perry's rise to power, the name Dr. James Leininger has to be part of the conversation. Dr. Leininger, a hospital bed magnate from San Antonio with a historical willingness to use his wealth to influence elections in favor of far-right candidates and causes, has been termed the "Sugar Daddy" of the religious right in Texas. For years his money has been a big influence on the State Board of Education and at the Capitol. And in Perry's case, Leininger's influence helped deliver the 1998 lieutenant governor's race to the man who would become the state's governor upon the resignation of George W. Bush. Read More

A Republican Congress instituted the first federally funded private school voucher program, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, in the District of Columbia in 2004. The program was a political victory for far-right groups and individuals such as voucher sugardaddy James Leininger of Texas. But it looked likely to fade out of existence due to the efforts of the current Democratic-controlled Congress.

Yet U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is doing her darndest to keep it alive.

See Secretary Spellings’ column appearing in yesterday’s Washington Post:

Signed into law by President Bush four years ago, the program is the first to provide federally funded education vouchers to students. It awards up to $7,500 per child for tuition, transportation and fees; in 2007-08 it enabled 1,900 students from the underperforming Washington public school system — the highest total yet — to attend the private or religious schools of their choice.

Now, let’s look at what Spellings has to say in favor of the program.

First she says that parents like the voucher program, but that’s a non-starter. There are also families who are like their neighborhood public schools. The issue is whether it is wise public policy to divert to… Read More

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