Leading Republican contender and prominent Christian candidate Rick Perry has been accused of hypocrisy after it was revealed that he invested thousands of dollars in the country’s largest pornography distributor.
Just a week after he launched his presidential campaign, the Texas governor has come under fire for his investment in Movie Gallery, a company that rented pornographic movies.
In 1995, while serving as Texas’ agriculture commissioner, financial disclosures reveal that Mr Perry bought between $5,000 and $10,000 worth of the company’s stock.
The revelation is particularly embarrassing for the Republican candidate as the company was boycotted by the American Family Association, which hosted Mr Perry’s high-profile prayer rally in Houston a week before he kicked off his campaign.
In potentially even more damaging allegations, Mr Perry is accused of signing into law bills that could have benefitted the pornography distributor.
Texas-based website The Burn Orange Report reported that Movie Gallery, which filed for bankruptcy in February 2010, had been facing two lawsuits for illegal business practices.
Smaller video stores had accused the company of illegally distributing pornography across state lines, but the company’s chief financial officer had described the lawsuits as ‘frivolous’.
The website reported that Mr Perry used similar language when signing a tort-reform bill that limited the liability of companies like Movie Gallery.
Mr Perry said the bill would ‘remov[e] the incentive for trial lawyers to file frivolous lawsuits,’ the website claimed.
The American Family Association led a high profile of Movie Gallery until it went into administration, which has added weight to the accusations of hypocrisy.
Patrick Vaughn, general counsel with the American Family Association, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: ‘They sold family-friendly material in the front but had adult rooms in the back.’
Mr Perry has spoken out against pornographers in the past and in his 2008 book ‘On My Honor’ suggested that pornography plays a role in ‘turning some viewers into eternal perdators’.
Mr Perry’s team have tried to dismiss the allegations of hypocrisy, saying that he sold his entire investment in the company the same year as he bought it.
‘This company was a regional video store that he owned [stock in] for less than a year,’ his campaign spokesman Mark Miner told the newspaper.
‘This is nothing different than a Blockbuster chain.’
But Matt Angle, director of Democratic research group the Lone Star Project, said this is part of a higher level of scrutiny that Mr Perry can now come to expect on the national political stage.
‘He doesn’t get a pass for something that happened in 1995,’ Mr Angle told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
‘He was a statewide elected official in Texas and let me tell you, Rick Perry is not… the type of candidate who would give his opponent a pass on anything like that.’
UNDER FIRE: HUNTSMAN ATTACKS PERRY ON GLOBAL WARNING
Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is pounding away at rival Rick Perry’s skepticism of manmade global warming and criticism of the nation’s central banker, saying those stands hurt the GOP and make the Texas governor come off as a not so serious national figure.
Huntsman, a former Utah governor who was President Barack Obama’s first ambassador to China, has trailed in early polls nationally and in early voting states, leading his campaign to pledge more aggressive attacks on the top candidates.
Perry said in New Hampshire this past week that he didn’t believe in manmade global warming, branding it an unproven scientific theory. He also defended the teaching of creationism in schools because evolution ‘has some gaps to it.’
‘When we take a position that isn’t willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science has said about what is causing climate change and man’s contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position,’ Huntsman told ABC’s ‘This Week.’
Huntsman said he couldn’t remember a time when ‘we actually were willing to shun science and become a party that was antithetical to science. I’m not sure that’s good for our future and it’s not a winning formula,’ according to interview excerpts released Saturday ABC. The full interview is set to air Sunday.
Campaigning in Rock Hill, S.C., on Saturday, Perry didn’t back down, saying he believes the Earth’s temperature ‘has been moving up and down for millenniums now and there are enough scientists out there that are skeptical about the reasons for it.’
Perry also took on the Federal Reserve and its chairman, Ben Bernanke, when he said the central bank’s leader would be committing a ‘treasonous’ act if he decided to ‘print more money to boost the economy.’ Such action, the governor told a crowd in Iowa, would amount to a political maneuver aimed at helping President Barack Obama win re-election.
Huntsman said he wasn’t sure that ‘the average voter out there is going to hear that treasonous remark and say that sounds like a presidential candidate, that sounds like someone who is serious on the issues.’
Perry said Saturday voters are worried about monetary policy. ‘I’m about representing the American people out here and the American people are really concerned and scared.’