President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday appointed former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy.
Perry infamously forgot the name of the department at the same time that he advocated for axing it, during his failed 2012 presidential bid.
Perry's career—which has included two presidential campaigns and a turn on the reality TV show "Dancing With The Stars"—has shown him to be a stalwart friend to Big Oil. Indeed, the transparency advocacy group OpenSecrets.org observed Tuesday that the industry donated nearly $2 million to Perry's 2016 campaign:
— OpenSecrets.org (@OpenSecretsDC) December 13, 2016
Many observers have critiqued the position as a clear conflict of interest, as the approval of an easement for the pipeline to cross the Missouri River will soon be the responsibility of Trump's administration.
Rick Perry is on the board of the #DAPL parent company. This glaring conflict of interest should disqualify him from serving as Energy Sec.
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— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) December 13, 2016
It's possible that Democratic senators may oppose his appointment on those grounds.
When Perry was appointed to the company's board in 2015, DeSmog Blog's Steve Horn observed that "Perry is the newest addition to a long roster of powerful political officials who have passed through the government-industry revolving door and accepted a job either on a company Board or as a lobbyist for a company seeking to cash in on the fracked gas export boom."
Perry initially rose to prominence in the GOP when, as a Texas state legislator, he switched from Democrat to Republican in 1989 at the behest of political operative Karl Rove and took part in "a tough, negative campaign" for agriculture commissioner in 1990 that saw him beat progressive incumbent Jim Hightower. It was a "campaign that permanently established Rove's reputation for foul play," noted Texas Monthly.
"I think [Perry's] a good campaigner," Hightower told Texas Monthly many years later. "I think that's the one thing he actually does well, as opposed to actually governing or having actual ideas or principles."