This week, seemingly half of Donald Trump’s cabinet has been caught up in one financial corruption scandal or another. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has already been forced to resign. Others including Steve Mnuchin, Ryan Zinke, Scott Pruitt, Elaine Chao, and David Shulkin have all been engulfed in scandals this week. Now, Energy Secretary Rick Perry – no stranger to scandal himself – is in serious trouble.
Price was forced to resign due to his habit of needlessly taking expensive chartered jets for government business on the taxpayer dime. Various other Trump cabinet members are now also in trouble for similar indiscretions. They’ll each try to play ignorant and claim they didn’t know any better. When it comes to Rick Perry, however, it’s a different story. According to Reuters (link), Perry took a chartered flight after Price’s flights became a major public scandal. In fact Perry’s flight was the day before Price was forced to resign.
This leaves Rick Perry with no plausible deniability, and no ability to plead ignorance. Instead, he seemed to be flaunting it. Despite the relatively low profile of the Secretary of Energy position in general, Perry himself has quite a high public profile as the controversial former Governor of Texas and failed former presidential candidate. His high profile, combined with the blatant timing of his chartered flight, could serve to make him the new face of the Trump cabinet scandal. Of course this is far from Perry’s first scandal.
Back in 2014, Rick Perry was indicted by a grand jury for having fired an official who was tasked with investigating his corruption as Governor of Texas. That indictment was later thrown out, but if it had succeeded, Perry could have ended up in prison. Of course he’s best remembered by the public for his “Oops” moment during a debate, when he couldn’t remember the names of the five federal agencies he wanted to eliminate. He’ll have a harder time using an “Oops” defense with his chartered flight.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report