by Jed Lewison
a way to funnel another $15,000 to his campaign.
Recently filed federal election disclosures show an unusually high number of live-at-home children of Perry donors also contributing to the Perry campaign -- more than the number contributing to other Republican candidates -- provoking questions as to whether some of those donations are actually coming from the kids.
Take for example this:
The last week of August was a very generous one at the Smitherman household in Austin, Texas. Barry Smitherman had recently been appointed commissioner of the Texas Railroad Commission by Gov. Rick Perry, following a stint as chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission. That week, Smitherman, his wife Marijane, and three of their four children each donated thousands of dollars to Rick Perry's presidential campaign.
Barry, Marijane, and their son Wyatt, a sophomore at Texas A&M University, donated the maximum allowed, $2,500, according to campaign finance disclosures. Their only daughter, who appears to be of middle school age judging from her dad's campaign website, also donated $2,500. And one of her brothers, who is a junior in high school according to his Twitter feed, donated $1,000. Smitherman declined to respond to questions from The Huffington Post about whether the money belonged to his children or to him.
I'm sure if he had answered the question, Smitherman would have explained that he had just given his daughter $2,500 when Rick Perry announced his flat tax plan and she spontaneously decided to max out to her new hero, because all the other kids in her class were doing the same thing. Or something like that.
Huffington Post found at least four similar examples of what appears to be funneling money around. I'm not an expert on campaign finance laws, but even if these cases would be hard to prosecute, it seems like a clear cut violation of the basic principles behind campaign contribution limits. In Rick Perry's defense, he probably never believed in those principles in the first place.