Will Rick Perry Ever Quit?

December 19th, 2011 at 9:23 am | 10 Comments |

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Jay Root at the Texas Tribune came out with a huge scoop this past week regarding the personal finances of Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Apparently, Perry has technically retired as a Texas state employee and has started receiving pension payments. This has garnered quite a bit of criticism for various reasons, including the fact that Rick Perry is still the Governor of Texas.

When I first read this story I wondered what the logic of this move would be, given that it would sooner or later become public knowledge and it isn’t the sort of story that would be helpful to a candidate in a Presidential election. Leaving aside whether or not it was legally proper or good estate planning, this doesn’t seem like something that someone running for President would do. Paul Burka at Texas Monthly has come up with an interesting and subtle point on this, however:

Ever since Perry announced for president, I have believed that the clock is ticking on his political career, and that the expiration of his term in January 2015 would be the crucial moment. Either he would have already decided to run again for a fourth full term, or he would have to go out into the world and find work. But double dipping enables him to extend his political career. He can stay in office and collect his pension and repeat the process indefinitely. Who is going to beat him? Certainly not a Democrat. He really could be governor for life.

I’m not sure I buy Burka’s predictions about how the next Texas gubernatorial election will work out. Personally, I believe the Democrats would have a better chance against Perry in 2014 than they have ever had. Two of Perry’s gubernatorial elections were in strong Republican wave election years and the other involved a four-candidate race. Perhaps more importantly, I also doubt he’d run unopposed in a Republican primary, particularly in the aftermath of the debacle of his Presidential campaign. A lot of Perry’s influence in Austin in recent years has come from the possibility of his being the GOP’s Presidential nominee in 2012 and/or the President in 2013. I don’t think either is likely to happen, so I think Burka’s thought that Rick Perry could be Governor for Life of Texas is a little overblown.

But Burka comes up with a great point in his article. By taking early retirement, Perry has improved his personal financial position and placed himself in a better position if he wants to continue his political career or if he wants to position himself in the national conservative talking head / political speaker dinner circuit. (I know Burka didn’t mention that circuit in his piece but that is another option on the table.) It’s my understanding that the latter option isn’t that lucrative unless one is in the upper reaches of that circuit and I don’t think Perry is likely to be in those upper reaches after this campaign, so taking an early pension helps him on that front.

This move provides a financial cushion for Perry that makes it less necessary for him to scramble for a lucrative (and possibly demanding) private sector position in the near future. I’ll leave it to others to comment about the optics of Perry’s decision to start drawing a pension, but it is a move that could give him more space to operate in the near future.

Recent Posts by Mark R. Yzaguirre

10 Comments so far ↓

  • Sinan

    I support public sector pensions for a lifetime of work. Has he really worked a lifetime in the public sector?

    • Lonewolf

      Under the rules, if age + years of state civil service + years of military service = 80 or more, you qualify. For Perry, 61+24+5 (USAF) = 99, so technically he’s entitled.

      However, again he has given the people a very good reason to distrust his moral character. His pension is $7,700 a month, or $99,400 a year. This, double-dipped with his Governor’s salary of $133,000 means he’s greedily draining nearly $20,000 a month from the taxpayers’ teat.

      No wonder he can afford all those $400 haircuts and $2000 cowboy boots, while he closes schools and lays of the forestry firefighters that would have prevented Texas from turning into a heap of ashes.

  • JohnMcC

    When I first heard of Gov Perry’s decision to ‘retire’ early I assumed that he knew the state of the fiduciary security of the pension fund and decided to get his before it went bankrupt. Don’t know how one would evaluate this nor what effect such facts would have. But if I were in Mr Yzaguirre’s position I wouldn’t have bothered posting without looking into it. Poor thinking in the Original Post and poor editing on the Forum is alas too common.

  • Graychin

    Of all the knocks that one might have against Rick Perry, I don’t think that his official “retirement” to start getting his Texas pension early has much sting.

    Why shouldn’t a guy read the pension rules and “retire” when it is to his best advantage to do so? Millions upon millions of Republican voters (those fortunate enough to have pensions) will have done much the same thing.

    What Perry has done isn’t nearly as venal as buying a company, pulling out huge management fees for a while, then stiffing the other creditors by gaming the bankruptcy laws. In my moral universe, the latter is no different than common theft. It may have been legal, but it was certainly immoral.

    • Lonewolf

      The guy is running for President. If we were interested in a President whose sole ability was to extract as much as possible for himself from the public teat, we’d nominate T. Boone Pickens.

  • laingirl

    Pensions are supposed to be a major matter to be addressed by the Texas Legislature when it meets again in 2013. Perry probably wanted to get his before any changes are made. Like Social Security, I’m sure there is no benefit to his taking his pension early unless he thinks he can better whatever the increase there would be in taking it later. Based upon his “good luck” with land deals, he’ll probably be better off taking it early.

    Burka, who is known to be somewhat of a fan of Perry, may be wrong in thinking Perry could be reelected as governor again. My Republican friends here in Texas have all been surprised at all the information they have finally learned about him and embarrassed by his performance in debates and on the campaign trail.

  • mlindroo

    > Personally, I believe the Democrats would have
    > a better chance against Perry in 2014 than they have ever had.

    …for several reasons, too. Politicians tend to lose popularity the longer they hang around, and Perry has never been *that* popular in Texas to begin with. He keeps winning since Texas has been a one party state since the late 1990s, but this may slowly be changing thanks to the explosive growth of the Hispanic minority.


  • Baron Siegfried

    But does he get his 10% Perkins discount . . ? The ones I feel sorry for in all this are Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and their writers, who have to be suffering from a severe case of smartassus interruptus, aka ‘bluebrains’ right about now. But I’m sure the other late night comics will have a LOT of fun with this . . .

  • mannie

    So how much would one have to pay for a seat at a Rick Perry speaking engagement?

    • Baron Siegfried

      More than I’m willing to part with . . . A couple of times a week I pop into RedState and see how the oppo is doing, and to say that blind panic is staring to set in there is a bit of an understatement. They see Perry as their White Knight riding in to save them from Mitt and Newt, lance and hood standing tall, ready to save the nation in the name of Jesus so he can bring about the conditions required for the end times and they can all get raptured up to heaven, halleluiah! The right is desperate for red meat, and no one can channel RR like Perry. And I think there’ll be marked abstentions in the general if Mitt get the nomination.

      If there’s a Dark Horse waiting in the wings somewhere, he’d better make his move, because right now, if Rocky Balboa got in the race, he, too, could spend a couple of weeks in the lead.