Roger’s Rules

The Campaign Highway, Bottom-of-the-Barrel Edition

I hope you are as shocked and dismayed as I am to learn that Texas Republican Presidential hopeful Rick Perry took campaign trips aboard the private plane of a wealthy Republican contributor who is being investigated by authorities for an unpaid parking ticket.

Mr. Perry’s campaign reimbursed the wealthy Republican owner of the private jet in accordance with a 2007 law that requires candidates who take trips in donors’ private jets to offer a public apology for flying in a private plane and reimburse owners at the higher charter rates rather than at first-class rates, as was the customary practice before.

But federal officials charge that the wealthy Republican owner of the private jet had left his expensive foreign car unattended for an entire afternoon on an unmarked side street in Dallas. The SEC is looking into allegations that the unscheduled stop was not properly reported in accordance with new regulations. A spokesman for the wealthy donor, who is a registered Republican and owner of a private jet, claimed that the parking meter in question was broken. Papers filed by an independent watchdog group contend that the ticket, issued last February, is valid and, as of August 31, unpaid.

Records show that Mr. Perry flew in the private Cessna Citation X jet to Vail, Colorado, to meet with the David and Charles Koch, wealthy Republican owners of Koch Industries, and donors to many conservative causes.

According to FAA records, made public last which as the result of a FOIA inquiry, the private jet of the wealthy Republican donor to conservative causes isn’t certified to fly for hire, although a loophole in the law allows candidates to fly in the plane provided they are reimbursed. A spokesman for the Perry campaign said the Republican Governor had no comment on the allegations.

Question: is this scenario and more absurd than this: “Perry Used Jet of Donor Who Faces SEC Probe“? You might think it was big news. The headline was featured on a big-time internet news aggregator and linked to a story in The Wall Street Journal. Is there a story here? Rick Perry flew on a private jet of a wealthy Republican donor who hopes that Perry wins: that’s the real tort here. What difference does it make that the donor is “under investigation for possible securities fraud by Texas regulators and the Securities and Exchange Commission”? What bearing does that have on Governor Perry’s trip? No, the real story in this non-story is contained between commas: “Mr. Perry, who has emerged in just weeks as the new front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, . . .” In brief, it’s Open Season on Perry, and if reporters can’t find anything substantive to pin on him guilt by association will do in a pinch. Leavened by a bit of class warfare — one private jet is worth a lot in that battle — any collage that involves the phrases “wealthy donor,” “the Koch Brothers,” and “candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination” is bound to sell. It’s ridiculous, but it’s the way we live now.