Over in the comments to this story from last week’s Voice, one F.S. Enriquez espouses the theory that TABC Administrator Alan Steen has only been so profusely apologetic for the Rainbow Lounge raid because the man who appoints his bosses, Gov. Rick Perry, is up for re-election next year and wants the gay vote. It seems a little far-fetched, given that most LGBT people would seem more likely to support Perry’s opponent in the Republican Primary, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, or one of the Democrats. But Enriquez’s theory makes a little more sense in light of this story from The Dallas Morning News, which reveals that the chairman of the TABC, Perry appointee José Cuevas, has been soliciting campaign contributions for the governor from owners of the same restaurants and bars that the agency regulates. Not surprisingly, Perry spokesman Mark Miner denies that this represents any conflict of interest, but The DMN notes that Perry himself once criticized an opponent for a similar practice:
Campaign records show that Perry has received more than $400,000 from restaurant interests since he became governor in 2000. In addition, he has raised nearly $800,000 from beer and liquor interests regulated by the TABC.
As a candidate seeking statewide office for the first time in 1990, Perry called for an investigation of his Democratic opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, because a grain and seed regulator under Hightower was soliciting campaign contributions from those he regulated.
Perry’s campaign manager denounced “the shakedown of people regulated by the Texas Department of Agriculture” and said that “this kind of political strong-arming is reprehensible.”