March 7, 2002
[download pdf version of this Lobby Watch]
‘Outing’ Who Funds
Political Hate Mongering in TX

‘Free PAC’ Wants Freedom For All—Except Women Who Abort, Mercy Killers, Gays…

“First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
                                             —Rev. Martin Niemöller
With a political group targeting relatively moderate Texas Republicans for purportedly hopping in bed with gays, abortionists and mercy killers, Lobby Watch pauses for a moment to ‘out’ the chief underwriters who made this hate mongering possible.

Just six years after Texans congratulated themselves for eschewing Pete Wilson-style politics, hateful political expression appears to be on the rise in Texas. In the 2000 election cycle, Dallas-based Free Enterprise PAC—which unleashed the recent vitriol—spent $550,593. This makes it the 20th largest PAC in Texas (up from No. 31 in the previous cycle).

So-called Free PAC’s spending in the 2000 cycle was up 127 percent over its spending in the 1996 cycle ($242,554). And the accompanying graph shows that the $334,832 that Free PAC spent eight days out from next week’s primary election is 119 percent more than it had spent by the comparable time in 2000.

Who are the corporate executives who fed Free PAC’s rapid growth?  Just 16 tycoons supplied 76 percent of the $788,037 that Free PAC has raised since April of 2000.

Topping the list is James Lightner, who—with fellow donor Bob Carrel—sold a defense communications firm to Chrysler in 1987. Lightner also was a donor to the political campaign of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.

Two Interstate Batteries executives rank among Free PACs top underwriters: CEO Tommy Miller and Chair/Chaplain Norm Miller (the company website recounts how Norm Miller found God at the bottom of a liquor bottle).

Five top Free PAC donors have been leaders of the Far Right’s education agenda in Texas (school vouchers, purging evolution and environmentalism from curricula, etc.), including James Leininger, James Mansour, Wal-Mart heir John Walton, State Board of Education member Richard Neill and failed Board of Education candidate Bob Schoolfield.

Top Free PAC Donors, April 2000 to Present
Donor Amount Company City
Jim Lightner $95,000 Electrospace Systems (sold to Chrysler then Raytheon) Dallas
Lonnie 'Bo' Pilgrim $75,000 Pilgrims Pride Corp. Chair (poultry) Pittsburg, TX
†Bob Schoolfield $67,000 Investor, owns 11 percent of America Education Corp. Austin
John Walton $50,000 Wal-Mart heir Bentonville, AR
Jan Collmer $45,000 Collmer Semiconductor Dallas
†Tommy Miller $41,000 Interstate Batteries President/CEO Dallas
J. C. Thompson Jr. $40,000 The Florida Co. (real estate); Southland (7-11) heir Dallas
†Bob Carrel $30,000 Electrospace Systems (sold to Chrysler then Raytheon) Bonham
Albert Huddleston $25,000 Hyperion Resources, Inc. President/CEO Dallas
James Leininger $25,000 Kinetic Concepts, Inc. Founder/Owner San Antonio
David Hartman $20,000 Hartland Bank Chair/CEO (sold to Compass in '99) Austin
James Mansour $20,000 National Telecommunications Founder Austin
Richard Neill $20,000 Dentist on State Board of Education Ft. Worth
Nelson Bunker Hunt $15,000 H.L. Hunt oil heir Dallas
Norm Miller $15,000 Interstate Batteries Chair & Corporate Chaplain Dallas
Harold Simmons $15,000 Contran Corp. CEO (owns toxic companies/dumps) Dallas
        † On Free Enterprise PAC Board of Directors

The leading eccentric on the list is oil heir Nelson Bunker Hunt, whose infamous attempt to corner the global silver market in the go-go 1980s resulted in massive litigation, a fraud and racketeering conviction and a record personal bankruptcy filing.

Poultry magnate Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim helped gut Texas Worker Compensation laws—like so many broiler hens—by  passing out $10,000 checks to lawmakers on the floor of the legislature (Pilgrim helpfully left the “payee” line blank).

Dallas corporate raider Harold Simmons is best known for his still-unsuccessful efforts to dramatically expand a low-level nuclear waste dump in West Texas—and to stick Texas taxpayers with the liability for any mishaps.

Albert Huddleston is CEO of the Hyperion Resources energy company. J.C. Thompson, Jr. is an heir to the Southland Corp. (7-11 convenience stores), which the family has sold.

As Free PAC would be the first to point out, Texans who hate hate mongering are free to boycott the businesses and products of Free PAC’s top donors.

Consumer Products Linked To Top Free PAC Donors
Free PAC Donor Affiliated Consumer Businesses/Products
Lonnie 'Bo' Pilgrim Pilgrims Pride poultry
James Leininger Promised Land Dairy; Sunday House turkeys; TXN Texas Network TV
Norm/Tommy Miller Interstate Batteries; All Battery Center stores
John Walton Wal-Mart

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Texans for Public Justice is a non-partisan, non-profit policy & research organization
 which tracks the influence of money in politics.

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