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Campaign rethinks Perry donor codes
By Gary Scharrer
Express-News Austin Bureau
AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign sheepishly acknowledged Friday that labeling protest contributors as “ASS” donations could have been handled more delicately.A bunch of Texans upset with the governor’s support for a new business tax acted on their frustration by giving him campaign checks for 2 cents earlier this summer. Some sent in checks for 3 or 5 cents and a few mailed 1-cent checks.
The Perry campaign coded them as “ASS 06.” Political campaigns routinely code contribution checks to keep track of which event or mailing inspired them.
Because the unsolicited protest checks were not tied to any specific event, “they were coded as ‘A Small Supporter,'” Perry campaign spokesman Robert Black said Friday.
“In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best choice for an abbreviation,” Black said. “They’ll probably be changed to something like ‘SML’ for ‘Small’ going forward.”
Some of the protest-check writers discussed the special coding appearing on their canceled checks Friday morning with Houston talk show host Edd Hendee. A few posted copies of their check on the www.lonestartimes.com Web site, affiliated with radio station KSEV.
Lisa Stapp of Spring, who protested Perry’s business tax plan with a 3-cent campaign check, shrugged off the special coding for the small-change contributions.
“I am willing to believe that there is a code that says ‘a small supporter.’ I also believe that it is probably a disparaging remark,” Stapp said. “But if I have the right to protest, he has the right to call me ‘a small supporter.'”
Perry persuaded state legislators to pass a school funding reform bill in May that kept the Texas Supreme Court from closing public schools after June 1. A key feature includes a new business tax.
Most Texas businesses will face a new tax on gross receipts with deductions for either the cost of goods bought for resale or for payroll expenses, including employee benefits.
Some angry conservatives offered their 2 cents’ worth of protest with the tiny contributions.
“When Texans disagree with Rick Perry’s largest tax increase in history, he doesn’t listen. He just labels them,” said Mark Sanders, spokesman for Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who is challenging Perry in the fall gubernatorial election as an independent.
Perry and his supporters argue that the new business tax is not a net tax increase because it will help pay for $15.7 billion worth of cuts in school property taxes over the next three years.