2 Texans dig deep for boat vet adsPair from Dallas kick in $3 million for group's coffers
By JOHN FRANK, Houston Chronicle 2
October 5, 2004
WASHINGTON — Two Texas businessmen with a history of supporting Republican causes gave $3 million last week to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group trying to sink the presidential campaign of Democrat John Kerry.
Harold Simmons, a Dallas billionaire investor, made two $1 million donations to the group and Dallas oilman Boone Pickens, who earlier this summer gave $500,000, kicked in another $1 million last week.
The Texans' deep pockets have helped the veterans group air television advertisements attacking Kerry's Vietnam War record in states considered key to winning the White House.
Simmons and Pickens are among the top national contributors to 527 political organizations, so-called because of their designation under the federal tax code.
Simmons has given $2.5 million and Pickens $2 million to Progress for America, a group that is airing television ads claiming that Kerry's position on issues changes with the wind. The ads depict Kerry windsurfing.
Reports filed late last week by the Swift Boat Veterans indicate that, in addition to Simmons and Pickens, about a dozen Texans chipped in more than $370,000 over the past two weeks.
Among the donors was Houstonian Bob Perry, who gave $250,000. The home builder already had donated $350,000 to the group.
A Chronicle analysis shows that President Bush's home state has now contributed $4.6 million to the Swift Boat Veterans, a group founded by Houston lawyer John O'Neill. When the group files its quarterly report later this month, its total donations are expected to be about $15 million.
Money from Simmons, Pickens and others paid for ads showing Kerry testifying against the war after his discharge from the Navy. Another ad challenges his character.
Another 527 group with Texas connections — Texans for Truth — reported receiving $19,000 in donations with none of the money coming from residents of Texas.
The group, organized by Austin political operative Glen Smith, also reported buying $120,000 worth of television time for an advertisement questioning President Bush's service in the Texas National Guard.