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$16 Million Man :  
December 5 , 2006
GOP House Builder Bob Perry
Lost Bid For Capitol Additions


The No. 1 individual political donor in Texas—and the nation—upped the ante in the 2006 election cycle, contributing $6.7 million to state PACs and candidates. Houston homebuilder Bob Perry increased his political spending this cycle 44 percent over what he spent on Texas’ last election. The money tracked here covers Perry’s contributions to state PACs and candidates from January 2005 to the eve of the November 2006 election.

Bob Perry's Spending
On Texas Politics Skyrockets
Election
Cycle
Perry's State
Contributions
2001-2002
$3,838,500
2003-2004
$4,640,000
2005-2006*
$6,688,265
*Just to eve of November election.

These figures do not include the additional $9.3 million that Perry poured into federal elections this cycle, an expenditure that made him the nation’s No. 1 federal donor according to Washington-based PoliticalMoneyLine. While Texas imposes no limits on what individuals can contribute to candidates for non-judicial state offices, the federal system bars individuals from giving a candidate more than $2,100 per election. As a result, Bob Perry gave a relatively modest $82,600 of his federal money to traditional PACs and candidates (Democrats received just $2,000 of these hard-money contributions).1

 


The vast majority of Perry’s federal contributions went to so-called federal 527 political organizations (named for a section of the federal tax code) that are not subject to contribution limits. His favorite such slush funds were: the Economic Freedom Fund ($5 million); Americans for Honesty on Issues ($2 million); and the Free Enterprise Fund ($1 million). These groups spent Perry’s millions on ads attacking Democratic congressional candidates.2

Back home in the Wild West, Perry spent $6.7 million through the eve of Texas’ 2006 election. He contributed $4.1 million to 146 state candidates and another $2.6 million to 17 state PACs that back multiple candidates. Republicans got 92 percent of the money he contributed directly to state candidates. Moreover, two-thirds of the state PACs that he backed exclusively support Republicans. In contrast, Perry gave to just one all-Democratic committee: Texas 2020 PAC (which supports moderate House Democrats.

Republicans Got 92 Percent of Perry’s State-Candidate Donations
Party
Perry
Total In
’06 Cycle
Share
Number of
Recipients
Average
Amount
Rep.
$3,792,265
92%
116
$32,692
Dem.
$315,500
8%
30
$10,517
TOTAL:
$4,107,765
100%
146
$28,135

Bob Perry’s Multi-Candidate PACs (2006 Cycle)
'06 Amount
From
Bob Perry
 Recipient PAC  PAC Description
$780,000
 Republican Party Of TX  Republican
$601,000
 Texans For Lawsuit Reform  Business lawsuit protection PAC
$545,000
 HillCo PAC  Bob Perry’s lobby firm
$125,000
 Harris Co. Republican Party  Republican
$115,000
 Associated Republicans of TX  Republican business interests
$105,000
 Texas 2020 PAC  Backs moderate House Democrats
$100,000
 Texans FOR Marriage  Backed amendment barring gay marriage
$60,000
 Stars Over TX PAC  Backs GOP House majority & Craddick
$50,000
 TX Opportunity PAC  Backs conservative Republicans
$25,000
 Dallas Co. Republican Party  Republican
$25,000
 TX Fed’n of Republican Women Convention  Republican women
$15,000
 South TX Republicans  Republican
$11,000
 Greater Houston Builders Assoc.  Homebuilder trade group
$10,000
 TX Assoc. of Builders  Homebuilder trade group
$10,000
 TX Marriage Alliance  Backed amendment barring gay marriage
$2,000
 Houston Professional Republican Women  Republican women
$1,500
 Republican Party of Fort Bend Co.  Republican
$2,580,500
 TOTAL  

In addition to his quantitative preference for GOP candidates, Bob Perry qualitatively discriminated between his favorite Republican versus Democratic candidates.

The accompanying tables list the top legislative recipients of Perry’s money broken out by party. Perry’s top GOP legislative candidates include just two incumbents (Gene

 

Seaman and Martha Wong)—both of whom lost to Democratic challengers this month.

In all, just two of Perry’s top 14 Republican legislative candidates won. Where Republican candidates were concerned, Perry concentrated his money in highly competitive races that had the potential to increase the GOP’s legislative majority.

Bob Perry’s Top Republican Legislative Races
Amount
From Perry
In ’06 Cycle
 Candidate
Seat
Incumbency
Status
2006
Outcome
Primary
%
General
%
Runoff
%
$262,500
 Joe Nixon
S-7
Open Seat
Lost Primary
9
NA
NA
$100,000
 Jim Landtroop
H-85
Open Seat
Lost
52
48
NA
$100,000
 Michael Schofield
H-133
Open Seat
Lost Primary
35
NA
47
$95,000
 Talmadge Heflin
H-149
Challenger
Lost
100
46
NA
$85,000
 George Antuna
H-118
Open Seat
Lost
49
44
81
$70,000
 Ben Bentzin
H-48
Challenger
Lost
100
0
NA
$70,000
 Gene Seaman
H-32
Incumbent
Lost
100
46
NA
$65,000
 Bill Welch
H-47
Open Seat
Lost
39
46
55
$62,500
 Chris Hatley
H-99
Challenger
Lost Primary
42
NA
NA
$59,500
 Martha Wong
H-134
Incumbent
Lost
100
43
NA
$55,000
 Alex Castano
H-47
Open Seat
Lost Primary
28
NA
45
$55,000
 Dan Patrick
S-7
Open Seat
Won
69
69
NA
$50,000
 Donald Margo
S-29
Challenger
Lost
100
41
NA
$50,000
 Jim Murphy
H-133
Open Seat
Won
34
56
53

Bob Perry’s Top Democratic Legislative Races
Amount
From Perry
In ’06 Cycle
 Candidate
Seat
Incumbency
Status
2006
Outcome
Primary
%
General
%
Runoff
%
$50,000
 Sylvester Turner
H-139
Incumbent
Won
100
100
NA
$45,000
 John Whitmire
S-15
Incumbent
Won
100
63
NA
$25,000
 Eddie Lucio III
H-38
Open Seat
Won
51
64
NA
$22,500
 Ana Hernandez
H-143
Incumbent
Won
100
71
61
$21,000
 Mario Gallegos
S-6
Incumbent
NA
NA
NA
NA
$20,000
 Norma Chavez
H-76
Incumbent
Won
70
100
NA
$17,500
 Rodney Ellis
S-13
Incumbent
Won
100
100
NA
$17,000
 Allan Ritter
H-21
Incumbent
Won
100
100
NA
$15,000
 Patrick Rose
H-45
Incumbent
Won
100
60
NA
$11,000
 Ismael Flores
H-36
Incumbent
Won
100
100
NA
$10,000
 Helen Giddings
H-109
Incumbent
Won
90
90
NA
$10,000
 Eddie Lucio Jr.
S-27
Incumbent
NA
NA
NA
NA


The Democratic legislative candidates who received the largest Perry checks are different. With the exception of Rep.-Elect Eddie Lucio III, every Democrat who got $10,000 or more from Perry was an incumbent who either did not face a 2006 election (Senators Mario Gallegos and Eddie Lucio, Jr.) or who won reelection by a margin of 20 percent or more. Indeed, half of Perry’s favorite Democrats lacked any 2006 opposition.

 


When shopping for Republicans, Perry was most generous where he had the potential to increase the GOP’s legislative edge. The Republicans receiving the biggest Perry checks ran in districts with open seats or challenged Democrats in heavily contested races. Perry’s preferred Democrats, on the other hand, were safe-seat incumbents whose races were unlikely to alter the partisan distribution of power in the legislature.


Perry State Candidate Contributions By Incumbency Status

 Incumbency
 Status
Perry
Contributions
Share of
Perry's Money
Number of
Recipients
Average
Contribution
 Incumbent
$2,362,765
58%
101
$23,394
 Open Seat
$1,282,500
31%
28
$45,804
 Challenger
$462,500
11%
17
$27,206
TOTALS:
$4,107,765
100%
146
$28,135

On average, Perry gave incumbents less money ($23,394) than non-incumbents ($38,778), with open-seat candidates commanding the highest average contribution ($45,804). Overall, however, many more incumbents (101) received money from Perry than did challengers or candidates seeking open seats (45). The sheer breadth of Perry’s reach is remarkable. More than half of all Republican legislative candidates on the November 2006 ballot received $1,000 or more from this one powerful donor.

 

Of the $4.1 million that Bob Perry gave directly to state candidates, winners received 61 percent, losers got 34 percent and officials not facing a 2006 election received the remaining 4 percent.

Led by Governor Rick Perry (no relation to Bob Perry), nine incumbent Republicans who won 2006 reelections to statewide offices received $1.2 million from Bob Perry. This is about half of all the money that Perry gave to winning state candidates in the 2006 cycle.


Perry State Candidate Contributions By Outcome
 Outcome
Perry
Contributions
% of Perry's
Money
Number of
 Recipients
Average
Contribution
 Winners
$2,511,265
61%
100
$25,113
 Losers
$1,417,000
34%
37
$38,297
 No '06 Election
$179,500
4%
9
$19,944
TOTALS:
$4,107,765
100%
146
$28,135

Perry State Candidate Contributions By Office
Office
Perry
Contributions
% of Perry’s
Money
Number of
Recipients
Average
Contribution
Statewide*
$1,590,265
39%
12
$132,522
House
$1,797,000
44%
95
$18,916
Senate
$637,000
15%
22
$28,955
Judicial*
$83,500
2%
17
$4,912
TOTALS:
$4,107,765
100%
146
$28,135
*“Statewide” includes candidates for the state’s top civil and criminal courts.


On average, however, Perry invested more money on losing candidates ($38,297) than winners ($25,113). This again suggests that he was willing to risk more money on uphill or competitive races that had the potential to increase his party’s control in Texas.

 


Yet Texas voters rolled back this goal in 2006. While Republican Glenn Hegar won a senate seat vacated by conservative Democrat Ken Armbrister, Democrats picked up a net gain of six House seats. (See below for a list of all Perry-backed state candidates.)3


Link to table listing all Perry-backed candidates


Footnotes:

1. Bob Perry gave a total of $2,000 to Texas Democratic Congressmen Henry Cuellar of Laredo and Al Green of Houston. After the DeLay-led congressional redistricting, Rep. Green beat Chris Bell in the 2004 Democratic primary for Rep. Nick Lampson’s seat.

2. The Free Enterprise Fund also attacked the opponent of incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), who successfully ran as an independent after anti-war candidate Ned Lamont defeated him in the Democratic Primary.

3. Democrats picked up one House seat with the special election of Donna Howard on February 14, 2006. They won five more House seats in November.