That's the title of another R.G. Ratcliffe report in today's Houston Chronicle. LINK
Embroiled in a national controversy over whether he allowed the execution of an innocent man, Gov. Rick Perry adamantly has refused to release an advisory memo from his general counsel about granting a 30-day reprieve for Cameron Todd Willingham.
“That information has been privileged information back when Ann Richards was the governor and George Bush was the governor, and I suggest it will be privileged information after I am the governor,” Perry told reporters last week.
Perry's office has a demonstrated record of applying the attorney-client privilege to him.
When a national news organization in 2003 asked the state archives for the execution memoranda written for former Gov. George W. Bush, there was no objection from Perry's office to the public having the information. Because of Perry's silence, Attorney General Greg Abbott ordered the documents' release.
But when the Houston Chronicle and other news organizations sought similar memos written for Perry by his general counsel, the governor's office has fought it repeatedly and obtained rulings from Abbott that the information does not have to be made public.
It is part of a pattern, a shroud of secrecy that has descended on the governor's office since Perry took over as governor from Bush.
“Taxpayers are being shortchanged when it comes to the public record for this governor,” said Keith Elkins, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. “That's not what transparency is all about.”
Perry's office has sought rulings from Abbott's office 173 times against releasing records, and he twice sued Abbott when he didn't like a ruling that records should be made public. Both lawsuits later were dropped.
The most recent brush is over releasing copies of a clemency memo written for Perry prior to the 2004 execution of Willingham for the murder of his three daughters in a Corsicana house fire. Shortly before the execution, Perry's office received a forensics report that the fire could not be proved to be arson.
Peggy Fikac's Chronicle column today is, "Perry's fingerprints all over state."
So, this is what you get with a governor who's appointed everyone to everything after nearly nine years in office: You name it, Gov. Rick Perry has a hand in it.
You get landmarks, such as his appointment of Eva Guzman as the first Latina to serve on the Texas Supreme Court.
And you get landmines, such as his nationally controversial replacement of Forensic Science Commission appointees looking into whether arson evidence supported the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham in his children's deaths.
Perry appointees oversee and administer agencies on everything from transportation to prisons, public safety to health care for the poor, public schools to state universities to environmental regulation.
“He stands astride Texas state government,” said SMU political scientist Cal Jillson, noting that because of six-year staggered terms on appointed boards, such a clean sweep can only can happen with longevity.
How you see that depends on how you view Texas' longest-serving governor. Critics see a heavy-handed use of power; his camp says he wields his authority responsibly.
Since taking office in December 2000, the GOP governor has made 4,759 appointments, including reappointments and replacements. That's 1,500 more than George W. Bush, who left in his second term to become president. It's nearing twice as many as one-term Democratic Gov. Ann Richards.
Earlier coverage of Todd Willingham begins with the preceding post; a related post on Gov. Perry's secrecy, here. One controversial Perry appointee to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, Shanda Perkins, was rejected by Texas Senators in this year's legislative session, as noted here.