Months After Vetoing Disclosure Bill, Rick Perry Gets a New Dark Money Group

The cover story for Governor Rick Perry's feud with California Governor Jerry Brown, his job-poaching trip to Missouri and his visit to a Maryland gun manufacturer the day after this month's Navy Yard shooting, is that he's bolstering the Texas economy by spreading the state's low-tax gospel and wooing people and businesses.

No one really believes that. What he's actually doing, according to pretty much everyone, is laying the groundwork for a 2016 presidential run.

The most recent junkets have been financed by a new group called Americans for Economic Freedom, which was established in August using the $212,608 left over from the SuperPAC that backed Perry's woeful 2012 presidential bid.

See also: The Top Four Reasons Rick Perry Toured a Gun Factory the Day After a Mass Shooting

AEF, like its predecessor, is set up as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit social welfare organization. In the 2012 presidential election such organizations came to be known as "dark money groups" since, even though they often function as arms of a campaign, they don't have to disclose where they get their cash.

The general consensus, at least among non-billionaires, is that the unfettered flow of anonymous money into political campaigns has a corrosive effect on democracy. That's why a bill to require 501(c)(4) nonprofits to disclose major donors sailed through the Legislature this year with bipartisan support.

The victory was brief. Perry unceremoniously killed the bill with his first veto of the session. In a statement Perry described the veto in heroic terms:

Freedom of association and freedom of speech are two of our most important rights enshrined in the Constitution. My fear is that SB 346 would have a chilling effect on both of those rights in our democratic political process. While regulation is necessary in the administration of Texas political finance laws, no regulation is tolerable that puts anyone's participation at risk or that can be used by any government, organization or individual to intimidate those who choose to participate in our process through financial means.

That Perry's principled stand in defense of free speech happens to line up so perfectly with his presidential ambitions is no doubt pure happenstance. Americans for Economic Freedom is just a group of Perry's closest friends and allies, boldly standing up for their Constitutional right to free speech.

(h/t San Antonio Express-News)

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