How Rick Perry's donors reaped benefits from Texas aid programs

Mr. Perry leapt into the Republican presidential primary this month preceded by his reputation as a thoroughbred fund-raiser. But a review of Mr. Perry’s years in office reveals that one of his most potent fund-raising tools is the very government he heads.

Over three terms in office, Mr. Perry’s administration has doled out grants, tax breaks, contracts and appointments to hundreds of his most generous supporters and their businesses. And they have helped Mr. Perry raise more money than any politician in Texas history, donations that have periodically raised eyebrows but, thanks to loose campaign finance laws and a business-friendly political culture dominated in recent years by Republicans, have only fueled Mr. Perry’s ascent.

“Texas politics does have this amazing pay-to-play culture,” said Harold Cook, a Democratic political consultant…

Mr. Perry has been much more aggressive than any past governor in soliciting money from them. According to a study last year by Texans for Public Justice, a watchdog organization, Mr. Perry has raised at least $17 million from more than 900 appointees or their spouses, roughly one dollar out of every five that he has raised as governor.