Rick Perry seems to have a pattern of political decisions based on the needs of major campaign contributors. Perry was grilled by other presidential candidates at this week’s CNN/Tea Party Nation debate over his decision to require vaccination against HPV, to the benefit of Merck, who has contributed to his campaigns in Texas. Now comes a decision to replace four members of the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission. As Reuters reported yesterday:
Texas Governor Rick Perry has sidelined a state commissioner opposed to expanding the scope of a nuclear-waste landfill while appointing a new board to oversee a project owned by one of his biggest political donors.
Billionaire Harold Simmons and his company Waste Control Specialists LLC stand to gain millions of dollars from accepting out-of-state shipments at a new West Texas facility for low level nuclear waste, such as cut up reactors.
Simmons has donated more than $1 million to Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns.
Perry says the changes have nothing to do with campaign contributions:
Perry, who tops the list of candidates seeking the Republican nomination to run for U.S. president, has said his appointments are based on experience. A spokeswoman said the new makeup of the commission reflected its “evolving needs.”
Tom “Smitty” Smith of Public Citizen Texas disagrees:
“Commissioner Gregory’s removal appears intended to silence a potential critic at the behest of a major Perry donor rather than to serve the best interests of Texas,” he said in a statement. He congratulated Wilson, whom he called the best qualified to head the commission.