How Mega-Donor Bob Perry Spent His Political Money

PHOTO: Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, poses at the sales center at one of his Houston developments, Dec. 10, 2002.Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle/AP Photo
Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, poses at the sales center at one of his Houston developments, Dec. 10, 2002.

Bob Perry, a homebuilding mogul and mega-donor who pumped more than $23 million to Republicans in the 2012 election cycle, passed away in his sleep on Saturday at age 80.

The founder of Perry Homes, a major homebuilding company he established in Texas in 1968, Perry was among the pioneers of the new, post-Citizens United era in political spending, which saw a small handful of elite money men emerge as multimillion-dollar donors to super PACS in the first presidential election under their reign.

So how did Perry spread his political money around, and how did his efforts influence 2012?

Though he was best known for his backing of Mitt Romney and spending 99 percent of his political donations to Republican causes, Perry diversified his contributions within the GOP, donating to multiple contenders, sometimes in the same races.

Perry began his career as a political donor well before the super PAC era. In 2006, Perry and his wife, Doylene, made their first contribution to Arizona Sen. John McCain for the 2008 election cycle. They then went on to write additional checks that May and again after McCain secured the GOP presidential nomination.

Six years later Perry topped the list as the third-biggest political contributor during the 2012 presidential election cycle, giving $23,450,000 to Super PACs in support of Mitt Romney.

Tim Pawlenty, a contender on Mitt Romney's short list to his running mate, also touted receiving support from the millionaire. Perry and his wife gave a combined $10,000 to Pawlenty's presidential campaign and another $60,000 to his political action committee.

Donating to more than one candidate in a single election cycle is not double dipping, but rather presidential politicking.

The Center for Responsive Politics reported that Mitt Romney had 616 multi-givers and 261 of those donations overlapped with Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

At the height of Rick Perry's presidential-campaign bubble, Bob Perry donated $100,000 to the pro-Rick-Perry super PAC, Make Us Great Again, in August 2011. Though Gov. Perry raked in millions from donors like Bob Perry upon announcing his bid for the White House, Perry did not rank among the top contributors to Gov. Perry's presidential campaign.

On Monday, Gov. Perry released a statement remembering the life of the big-time donor.

"His astonishing success story as a businessman serves as an inspiration to anyone who ever dreamed of bigger things, and his selfless dedication to the people and causes he believed in serves as an inspiration to anyone who has ever felt the call to get involved. Bob Perry left his state, and his country, in a better place than where he found it, and he will be profoundly missed by us all."

Perry ranked third on the list of top donors to outside spending groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Behind Sheldon Adelson ($92.7 million) and fellow Texas Harold Simmons of Dallas ($26.8 million), Perry's $23.4 million ranked him well ahead of the fourth-place Fred Eychaner ($14 million) and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($13 million). Perry was one of just six people to donate more than $10 million to outside spending groups in 2012.

Perry was also the largest single donor to GOP causes in his home state of Texas.

In the mid-1990's Perry contributed to the gubernatorial races of former President George W. Bush and later he helped finance the Swift Veterans for Truth campaign which aimed to deride John Kerry, Bush' democratic counterpart.

He also donated $45,000 to the campaign of George P. Bush, the 36-year-old nephew of the former president who is claiming his stake as Texas Land Commissioner in his first run for office.

An analysis from the Texas Tribune reports that Perry gave $28 million to candidates and causes from Texas and an additional $38 million to outside groups and individuals.

Though he was a frequent in contributing conservative campaign cash, Perry did support a few Democratic officeholders, including state Rep. Sylvester Turner and state Sen. Mario Gallegos, who won his seat in office posthumously. Both State Representatives served in Texas.