Gov. Rick Perry Thursday afternoon defended his ceremonial bill-signings in the face of criticism from Kay Bailey Hutchison's campaign that they are "phony" events to pump up the governor's political profile.
Hutchison aides are calling on Perry to reimburse taxpayers for the events and are urging TV station managers to think twice before covering them.
"I would be very careful trying to pressure media outlets into stifling our first amendment rights," Perry told reporters after a mid-day ceremony for legislation creating a state task force to halt human trafficking. "That is a very dangerous track to go down."
Jennifer Baker, senior communications director of Texans for Kay, penned letters to TV station managers suggesting that they stop covering the bill-signings — or at least tell viewers that they are tax-funded political events. The Hutchison campaign released the text of the letter this morning.
"Why is Rick Perry holding meaningless bill signing ceremonies? The answer is simple," Baker said in the letters. "This is an election year and signing ceremonies attract your attention. Please do not fall for this political ploy."
The Republican governor, who faces Hutchison in next year's Republican gubernatorial primary, was in Dallas to sign two energy bills on Wednesday. He ceremonially signed two bills Thursday and planned another signing later Thursday.
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