“When Texas billionaire Harold Simmons wanted to build a radioactive waste dump, one data point that would loom large in the permitting process wasn’t required on the application: He is a major donor to Governor Rick Perry.
Simmons, who has donated more than $1.2 million to Perry’s campaigns, was granted the permit over the objections of some TCEQ staffers concerned the site threatened the Ogallala Aquifer, a water source for much of the plains.
The permit process for the site, run by Simmons’s company Waste Control Specialists LLC, a subsidiary of the publicly traded Valhi Inc. (VHI), is one example of how Perry’s donors’ close ties to the governor can influence government grants, appointments and permits.
“As Americans look past his swagger, they’ll see he represents more of the same lobbyist-run politics as usual that they despise,” said Rodell Mollineau, president of American Bridge 21st Century, a Washington-based Democratic opposition research group.
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