Texas Governor Rick Perry:
An Inventory of Governor Rick Perry General Counsel General Correspondence at the Texas State Archives, 1995, 1999-2014
The governor of Texas is the chief executive officer of the state, elected by the citizens every four years. The duties and responsibilities of the governor include serving as commander-in-chief of the state's military forces; convening special sessions of the legislature for specific purposes; delivering to the legislature at the beginning of each regular session a report on the condition of the state, an accounting of all public money under the governor's control, a recommended biennial budget, an estimate of the amounts of money required to be raised by taxation and any recommendations he deems necessary; signing or vetoing bills passed by the legislature; and executing the laws of the state. The governor can grant reprieves and commutations of punishment and pardons upon the recommendation of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and revoke conditional pardons. He appoints numerous state officials (with the consent of the senate), fills vacancies in state and district offices (except vacancies in the legislature), calls special elections to fill vacancies in the legislature, fills vacancies in the United States Senate until an election can be held and serves as ex officio member of several state boards.
The office of governor was first established by the Constitution of 1845 and superseded the office of president of the Republic of Texas. The position now exists under authority of Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution of 1876 and Texas Government Code, Chapter 401. To be elected governor, a person must be at least thirty years old, a United States citizen and a resident of Texas for at least five years preceding the election. In 1972, the term of office was extended from two to four years, effective in 1975. Since 1856 the governor has had the use of the Governor's Mansion.
In 2014 there were 277.4 full-time equivalent employees in the Office of the Governor. Nineteen divisions outside of the Executive Office assist the governor in carrying out his functions: Scheduling and Advance; Office of the First Lady; Administration; Appointments; Legislative; Communications; Budget, Planning, and Policy; General Counsel; Internal Audit; Constituent Communication; Criminal Justice; Economic Development and Tourist Development; Governor's Commission for Women; Office of Financial Accountability; Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities; Texas Film Commission; Texas Music Office; Texas Workforce Investment Council; and Office of State-Federal Relations.
The General Counsel position within the Texas Office of the Governor was created in October 1973 when the Executive Director of the Governor's Criminal Justice Division appointed an individual as General Counsel, to assist him in providing statute interpretations and in other matters relating to policies and procedures. Today the Office of the General Counsel is a separate division in the Governor's Office.
Duties of the General Counsel include providing statute interpretations; tracking inmates on death row as their cases move through the judicial process including all appeals to the governor for commutations or stays of execution; handling pardon requests sent to the governor; reviewing proposed settlements, land patents, grant requests, contracts, easements, and deeds for the governor; analyzing proposed legislation and regulations for validity and legal effect; assisting appointments staff in determining eligibility and other legal issues related to proposed appointments; handling extradition and requisition matters; coordinating ethics guidelines and training for the governor's office; advising the governor on federal programs administered by the state; coordinating the governor's criminal justice policy with the governor's Policy Director; and providing legal advice and handling litigation filed against the governor or the Governor's Office, in conjunction with actions of the Attorney General on the governor's behalf.
(Sources include: Guide to Texas State Agencies, 11th edition (2001); , accessed on February 26, 2016; the contents of the records; and the during Governor Perry's term, accessed via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine on February 29, 2016.)
Rick Perry served as governor of Texas from December 20, 2000, to January 20, 2015.
James Richard "Rick" Perry was the 47th governor of Texas. He was born on March 4, 1950, in Haskell, Texas to Joseph Ray Perry and Amelia June (Holt) Perry. In 1972, he received a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University in animal science. Perry then served as a pilot with the United States Air Force from 1972 to 1977 and was discharged in 1977 with the rank of captain. Perry was elected to the Texas House of Representatives (District 64) as a Democrat in 1984 and served until 1991. He was named one of the 10 most effective lawmakers by the Dallas Morning News in 1989. In the same year, Perry changed his party allegiance, becoming a Republican. Perry left the House of Representatives to serve two terms as Commissioner of Agriculture, from 1991 to 1999. He was a member of the U.S. Trade Representative's Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee on International Trade; the executive committee, Southern U.S. Trade Association; and president of the Southern Association of Trade Departments of Agriculture (from 1992 to 1993). He was elected lieutenant governor in 1998, taking office in January of 1999. Perry became governor to complete the term of Governor George W. Bush who left the office in December 2000 to become president of the United States. Perry was first elected governor of Texas on November 5, 2002, and then reelected on November 7, 2006, and November 2, 2010.
As governor, Perry focused primarily on issues of economy, education, and security, especially along the Texas-Mexico border. He espoused fiscal conservatism, opposing a state income tax and focusing on job growth and business incentives throughout his governorship. As the longest serving Texas governor, Perry capitalized on the main power assigned to him by the Texas Constitution, appointing the majority of sitting members of every state board or commission. In the field of health care, Perry signed several bills governing abortion procedures and funding. Perry issued an executive order mandating that all Texas girls receive the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine on February 2, 2007. The order was overturned by the state legislature the following August.
On August 13, 2011, Perry announced he would be running for president in 2012. However, after a controversial campaign and a low showing in the Iowa caucuses, Perry dropped out of the presidential race on January 19, 2012. Perry later ran for president again, announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on June 4, 2015. He officially suspended his campaign on September 11, 2015.
On August 15, 2014, Perry was indicted by a grand jury on felony charges for abuse of power. The indictment specifically included two charges: abuse of official capacity (a first-degree felony) and coercion of a public servant (a third-degree felony). Perry was accused of coercing Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg (who had been convicted of drunk driving) to resign by threatening to veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit, a group of state public corruption prosecutors. Perry was officially cleared of all charges in February 2016.
Perry married Anita Thigpen in 1982. They have two children, Griffin and Sydney.
(Sources include: Texas State Directory, 2014; the Texas Governor's Office website during Governor Perry's term at http://www.governor.state.tx.us, accessed on December 22, 2014; the Texas Governor's Office website during Governor Perry's term at https://wayback.archive-it.org/414/*/http:/www.governor.state.tx.us/homeland, dated November 17, 2014; Jeff Zeleny and Michael D. Shear, "Perry to End Bid for Presidency," New York Times, January 19, 2012, accessed on January 19, 2012; Theodore Schleifer, "Rick Perry drops out of 2016 presidential race - CNNPolitics.com," CNN, September 11, 2015, accessed on September 13, 2015; Benjy Sarlin, "Rick Perry indicted for abuse of power by grand jury," MSNBC, August 12, 2014, accessed on August 17, 2014; and Eugene Scott, "Court dismisses one criminal charge against Perry," CNN, July 24, 2015, accessed on July 26, 2015; and Carrie Dann, "Texas Court Dismisses Second Felony Charge Against Rick Perry," February 24, 2016, accessed on April 8, 2016.)
The Office of the General Counsel in the Texas Governor's Office was responsible for providing legal advice to Governor Rick Perry. The general correspondence of Texas Governor Rick Perry's General Counsel consists of incoming and outgoing letters and attachments such as court records, legislation, and one audiocassette tape, dating 1995, 1999-2014. Topics covered in this correspondence concern executive clemency requests, inmate and parole matters, nursing homes and state health services, child protective services, and legislative matters. A portion of the records include special project files related to emergency management and disaster response services after Hurricanes Alex, Katrina, Rita, and Ike, along with fires, droughts, floods, and the West, Texas, explosion.
Correspondents include state and federal officials, legislators, local officials, law firms, inmates, companies, board and commission members, and general counsel staff members. Correspondence with state agencies and commissions include Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Attorney General's office, Texas Department of Human Services, Texas Supreme Court, Texas Department of Transportation, and Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, among others. Most of the letters are addressed to Bill Jones or Brian Newby, each of whom served as general counsel to Governor Perry. A portion of the letters are addressed to Mary Ann Wiley, who served as deputy general counsel.
For constituent correspondence, please review the separate finding aid Governor Rick Perry Constituent Communication Office correspondence files.
Formats of the original electronic files include word processing or plain text files (.doc, .txt, .pdf), spreadsheets (.xls), and emails (.msg). Digital files presented for public use will generally be PDF for text documents or spreadsheets. Files in their original format are available on request; restrictions may apply.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.
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(Identify the item), Texas Governor Rick Perry General Counsel general correspondence. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession numbers: 2015/067, 2015/117, 2016/170
Paper records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Office of the Governor on December 19, 2014 through March 2015 and on June 9, 2016. Electronic records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Office of the Governor on January 29, 2015.
Processed by Halley Grogan, May 2016
Other Finding Aids
Electronic records described in this finding aid are part of the Texas Digital Archive, available online at https://tsl.access.preservica.com/tda/tx-gov-perry/.
Detailed Description of the Records