Study: Wealthy Texan group leads political donors9 contributors gave at least $1 million each to state candidates in '06
By WAYNE SLATER / The Dallas Morning News, Austin Bureau
Thursday, September 27, 2007
AUSTIN - An elite group of 142 wealthy Texans at the heart of an escalating money chase showered state politicians with more than $50 million in campaign cash last year, according to a new study.
Leading the list of Texas' biggest blue-chip donors were nine contributors who gave at least $1 million each to statewide and legislative candidates in 2006.
The study, conducted by the nonprofit organization Texans for Public Justice, underscored the growth in political fundraising in a state where more and more money is coming from a corps of influential givers.
"A small handful of business tycoons control political money in Texas," said Craig McDonald, executive director of Texans for Public Justice.
The study is the first comprehensive review of fundraising by state candidates from governor to all 181 members of the Texas Legislature. Houston homebuilder Bob Perry was the state's biggest campaign contributor in 2006, giving $7.1 million to candidates. He is Gov. Rick Perry's biggest political donor, giving $1.4 million directly or indirectly through a GOP group to the Republican incumbent.
Other top campaign contributors giving at least $1 million to state candidates included Dallas attorneys Fred and Lisa Baron, Dallas tax-consulting executive Brint Ryan and Dallas oilman T. Boone Pickens.
The totals mark a sharp escalation in campaign spending in a state where, unlike federal races, there are no limits in the size of donations to state candidates.
According to the study, 52 percent of Gov. Perry's money in his 2006 reelection came in contributions of $10,000 or more.
By contrast, a computer analysis by The Dallas Morning News found that only about 10 percent of the money raised by Bill Clements and 30 percent raised by Mark White in 1986 were in contributions of $10,000 or more.
In 1990, contributions of $10,000 amounted to a third of Ann Richards' $12 million total to win the Governor's Mansion.
The report provides fundraising profiles for the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller and 181 members of the Texas House and Senate. Each profile lists an official's top contributors and breaks down their money.