Monday, March 03, 2008

Did Texas Restoration Project Improperly Fund Gov. Rick Perry’s reelection campaign in 2006

The Rev. Laurence White and his wife are two of three directors on the Niemoller Foundation’s governing board. White is also chairman of the Texas Restoration Project. The foundation reported income of about $1.3 million in 2005 and spent all but about $29,000 in that year.
Expenditures covered Texas Restoration Project activities – including more than $700,000 for the six pastors’ events – and payments to organizations tied to the Texas Restoration Project.

Other ties between the Perry campaign and the Niemoller Foundation/Texas Restoration Project include the following:

• The Niemoller Foundation’s expenditures in 2005 included nearly $475,000 paid to San Jacinto Public Affairs, an Austin-based firm that organized the Texas Restoration Project’s events. The firm earned at least $4 million from work for the Republican Party of Texas and electoral candidates between July 2003 and November 2007.

• The Perry campaign subsequently communicated directly with thousands of pastors recruited by the Texas Restoration Project, suggesting coordination between the campaign and the Restoration Project.

• Press reports in 2005 indicated at least one of Gov. Perry’s pastors’ briefing speeches was considered a campaign event, with the Perry campaign releasing the transcript of his speech. (“Perry mobilizes evangelicals as gov’s race heats up,” Matt Curry, Associated Press, June 11, 2005)

• The Niemoller Foundation doled out $200,000 to Plano-based Free Market Foundation and San Antonio-based Justice at the Gates in 2005. The two groups helped recruit pastors to Texas Restoration Project events. Free Market Foundation president Kelly Shackelford and Justice at the Gate director Susan Weddington served on Gov. Perry’s reelection steering committee.

• Days before the gubernatorial election in November 2006, the Texas Restoration Project sent e-mails to pastors on its mailing list, encouraging them to participate in a statewide conference call (which took place the following week) to “discuss what we can do this election cycle to motivate our pews to vote their values.” Shackelford and David Barton, who until June 2006 had served as vice chair of the Texas Republican Party, were among the organizers and prominent speakers on the call.

Documents related to the Texas Freedom Network’s complaint to the IRS can be found at

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