Saturday, December 23, 2006

"Grandma" Gives State Jobs To 7 Campaign Aides

It looks like the time-honored and ethically-questionable practice of political patronage is alive and well in Texas. Candidates winning state-wide office often reward some of their campaign aides with lucrative state jobs [and you know these aren't entry-level positions].

The tradition continues this year among the winners --

* Governor Rick Perry has hired 5 of his campaign aides to fill state jobs.
* Incoming State Comptroller Susan Combs has rewarded 2 of her campaign staff with state jobs.
* Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has hired 2 of his campaign staff.
* Attorney General Greg Abbott has found a state job for 1 member of his campaign staff.

But you know the practice is getting out of hand, when the losers in the November election also start handing out state jobs to their staff. One Tough Grandma, Carole Strayhorn, was defeated in last November's election. But that did not stop her from hiring 7 members of her campaign staff to be state employees.

The 7 staff members hired by Strayhorn will be making a combined salary of $40,000 a month. If my math is correct, that's an average salary of over $5,700 a month for each employee. And you, the taxpayer, get to pay for Strayhorn's largesse. Aren't you proud?

Tom "Smitty" Smith, head of Public Citizen's Texas branch, is not so proud. He says, "This is outrageous. The outgoing comptroller shouldn't be hiring new employees, especially from her campaign. This is a time when she needs to be winding down her activities as the comptroller rather than padding the payroll."

I agree with Mr. Smith. It's bad enough that we taxpayers must pay to reward campaign staffers of the winners. For us to have to also reward campaign staffers of the losers is just plain ridiculous!

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