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Operation Vouchsafe:
Dr. Leininger Injects $5 Million Into Election;
Many Candidates Fail On His Life Support
  • Doc supplies 79% to 96% of six candidates’ total war chests.
  • He quadruples his dosages of previous cycles.
  • Democrats get zip.

Texas’ No. 2 individual political donor, conservative Republican activist Dr. James Leininger, injected more than $5 million into Texas state politics this election cycle—none of which went to a Democrat. This spending quadrupled what Leininger pumped into previous state elections.

Leininger Spending Quadruples
Election
Leininger
Cycle
Contributions
2001-2002
$1,346,850
2003-2004
$1,311,142
2005-2006
$5,044,006

Leininger spent heavily going into the primaries to promote conservative challengers to moderate Republicans who had stiffed his school-voucher agenda. Yet his aggressive checkbook politics flunked this year’s primary and general elections. The next legislature looks even less receptive to vouchers than its predecessor.

 

Meanwhile, Leininger’s meddling has fostered support for a pending bill (HB 111) that would bar any individual from dumping more than $100,000 into an election cycle.

Leininger moved $1,819,564 of his money directly, while funneling $3.2 million more through three pet PACs that depended on him for 98 percent of their funds. To track the final destination of Leininger’s money, this report treats contributions made by these three Leininger-controlled PACs (Texas Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, Future of Texas Alliance and Texans for School Choice) as if they came directly from Leininger himself.

Leininger contributed $1,557,531 of his $5 million total to 14 general-purpose PACs that he does not control. These conservative PACs bolster Texas’ Republican majority, push vouchers, seek weaker tort laws and oppose gay unions and abortion.


Leininger-Controlled PACs
 
Total
Raised In
Total
From
Leininger’s
Share of
 Political Action Committee
’06 Cycle
Leininger
Total
 TX Republican Legislative Campaign Comm.
$2,360,807
$2,358,707
99%
 Future of TX Alliance
$682,445
$620,000
91%
 Texans for School Choice
$181,190
$180,000
99%
 TOTALS:
$3,224,442
$3,158,707
98%


Leininger's Other Favorite PACs
Amount of
   
Contributions
 Recipient PAC  Description
$425,102
 Republican Party of TX  Republican
$390,000
 Texans For Lawsuit Reform  Weak tort laws
$300,000
 Associated Republicans of TX  Republican business PAC
$135,000
 Stars Over TX  Backs House Republicans
$100,000
 Texans FOR Marriage  Anti-gay marriage
$91,100
 TX Opportunity PAC  Backs conservative Republicans
$89,244
 All Children Matter, TX  Vouchers
$13,000
 TX Club for Growth  Backs conservative Republicans
$12,000
 TX Right To Life PAC  Anti-Abortion
$1,000
 TX Alliance for Life  Anti-Abortion


Leininger gave his remaining $3.5 million to 64 Republican candidates, with 90 percent of this money going to House candidates. Twenty losers accounted for 59 percent of Leininger’s total candidate contributions.

Leininger Contributions By Outcome

 Outcome
Leininger
Amount
Number of
Recipients
Average
Contribution
% of
Money
 Winners
$1,431,443
43
$33,289
41%
 Losers
$2,050,032
20
$102,502
59%
 No ’06 Election
$5,000
1
$5,000
<1%
 TOTALS:
$3,486,475
64
$54,476
100%


Candidates who lost in the GOP primary ate up 47 percent of all the money that Leininger gave to candidates in the 2006 cycle. Of the 10 House candidates that received $50,000 or more from Leininger, five perished in the primary and just two survived the general. These two winners, Nathan Macias and Wayne Christian, may not have survived with their independence intact.

 


Both candidates amassed war chests of more than $500,000 apiece, with Leininger providing 84 percent of Macias’ total and 85 percent of Christian’s. Leininger also bankrolled a stunning 96 percent of the $542,130 that Mark Williams raised for his failed primary challenge to incumbent Tommy Merritt of Longview.


Doctored Candidates:
Leininger Underwrote Major Shares of These Campaigns
 House Candidate
Office
Total
Raised
In ’06 Cycle
Amount
From
Leininger
Share
From
Leininger
Incumbency
Status
Outcome
 Mark Williams
H-7
$542,130
$519,030
96%
Challenger
Primary Loser
 Van Wilson
H-83
$578,982
$503,366
87%
Challenger
Primary Loser
 Nathan Macias
H-73
$542,422
$461,464
85%
Challenger
Winner
 Wayne Christian
H-9
$537,186
$452,804
84%
Challenger
Winner
 Chris Hatley
H-99
$324,837
$255,478
79%
Challenger
Primary Loser
 Dale Hopkins
H-54
$310,025
$249,816
81%
Open Seat
Primary Loser
 George Antuna
H-118
$695,543
$165,000
24%
Open Seat
Loser
 Talmadge Heflin
H-149
$631,970
$83,000
13%
Challenger
Loser
 Kent Grusendorf
H-94
$466,098
$54,122
12%
Incumbent
Primary Loser
 Michael Esparaza
H-35
$296,484
$50,000
17%
Challenger
Loser
 Nelson Balido
H-125
$181,448
$40,000
22%
Challenger
Loser
 TOTALS:
$5,107,125
$2,834,080
55%

Leininger Contributions By Incumbency Status
 Status
Amount of
Contributions
Number of
Recipients
Average
Contribution
% of
Money
 Challenger
$2,421,142
11
$220,104
69%
 Open Seat
$542,938
15
$36,196
16%
 Incumbent
$522,395
38
$13,747
15%
 TOTALS:
$3,486,475
64
$54,476
100%


The heavy attrition rate of Leininger’s candidates reflects his high-stakes strategy of trying to replace incumbents who resisted his voucher agenda with candidates who will play his game. Challengers accounted for almost 70 percent of all the money that Leininger gave to candidates.

 


Placing his biggest electoral bet to date, Leininger largely crapped out. With a couple notable exceptions this appears to leave vouchers to stand—or fall—next session on the merits.


Leininger Contributions by Office
 Office
Leininger
Total
Number of
Recipients
Average
Contribution
% of
Money
 House
$3,071,345
38
$80,825
88%
 Senate
$65,000
4
$16,250
2%
 Statewide*
$293,130
10
$29,313
8%
 Judicial*
$57,000
12
$4,750
2%
 TOTALS:
$3,486,475
64
$54,476
100%
*Statewide judicial candidates are categorized as “Judicial.”

Link to table listing all Leininger backed candidates