Now that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is out of the national spotlight, it’s back to business as usual in Texas. Last week Perry appointed John Walker to the Board of Regents for the Texas Tech University System. With this appointment Perry continues his long tradition of appointing campaign donors to state offices and giving plum positions to supporters.
A Texans for Public Justice report found that Perry’s regent appointees have contributed over $6 million to his campaigns since 2000. Those appointed to the boards of regents at the University Texas System, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University and University of Houston have given the most money to Perry’s campaigns.
Walker is the president and CEO of EnerVest Ltd, an oil and gas company that is described on its web site as “using private equity” to “acquire onshore properties with proven reserves, enhance and build up those assets, then sell prudently three to five years out.” In addition to being a Texas Tech alum, Walker is also a member of the National Petroleum Council, past chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and a past board member of the Natural Gas Council.
While Walker has contributed to Perry’s campaigns, four other Texas Tech Regents have contributed significantly more. According to Texas Ethics Commission records, Walker has contributed $75,000 to Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns, which is still above the $64,343 average from Texas Tech regent appointees. In addition to contributions to Perry’s campaigns, Walker also donated $1,000 to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and $7,000 to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
Before the donations to Perry’s campaign, Walker also initially contributed $26,000 to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s campaign for governor, and it has been alleged that regents that supported Hutchison’s challenge of Perry faced political retribution. The Austin-American Statesman reported that two Texas Tech appointees said that Perry’s campaign pressured them to resign after they endorsed Hutchison.
Walker has been a much more active contributor to federal campaigns than he has to state campaigns. A review of Federal Elections Commission records found that Walker has contributed more than $73,000 to 22 different candidates, including $2,500 to Perry’s failed presidential campaign. In addition, Walker has contributed another $38,500 to political action committees, including $26,250 to the Republican National Committee.
The vast majority of Walker’s contributions have gone to Republican candidates. While he has contributed to several candidates from Texas such as more than $8,000 to Sen. John Cornyn and nearly $10,000 to Rep. Pete Olson, Walker has also contributed to candidates elsewhere including $2,400 to Sharon Angle in Nevada and $4,800 to Carly Fiorina in California.