Saturday, January 12, 2013

Billionaire Harold Simmons Donations Go Beyond Super PACs

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Billionaires giving to presidential super PACs have been getting a lot of media attention in the last few weeks as the extent of their influence emerges in new Federal Election Commission filings. Among the most prominent: Contran CEO Harold Simmons. So far, Mr. Simmons, known for opening his checkbook for conservative causes, is the biggest donor to super PACs. He’s donated $14 million so far, with recipients including Republican-focused American Crossroads and groups backing three different GOP presidential candidates.

Mr. Simmons’ donations to Republican congressional campaigns, though, are getting a lot less attention this cycle. Since 2011, Mr. Simmons and his wife, Annette, have given $96,200 to 14 Republican congressional candidates. They have donated an additional $111,600 to the National Republican Senatorial and Congressional Committees.

The largest congressional recipient, by far, of the Simmons’ funds is Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA). Mr. and Mrs. Simmons have contributed $32,500 to Rep. Cantor, the House Majority Leader, through his campaign committee, leadership PAC, and a state committee affiliated with his joint fundraising committee. Coming in second is the current lieutenant governor of Texas, David Dewhurst, who is running for Sen. Kay Hutchison’s (R-TX) seat. The couple have poured $20,000 into Dewhurst for Texas so far this election cycle. The couple seem to be prioritizing non-incumbents this time around – more than 40% of the Simmons’ contributions have gone to non-incumbent Republicans, including four of the top six recipients. Presidential super PAC fundraising is obviously a huge story this year, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that plenty of money is still flowing into congressional campaigns.

Here is the complete list of the couple’s donations to congressional candidates in this election cycle, according to data tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics:

Eric Cantor (R-VA) $32,500
David Dewhurst (R-TX) $20,000
Josh Mandel (R-OH) $10,000
Michael Williams (R-TX) $5,000
Pete Sessions (R-TX) $5,000
Marco Rubio (R-FL) $5,000
Roger Williams (R-TX) $4,800
John Thune (R-SD) $4,000
Kenny Marchant (R-TX) $2,500
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) $2,400
Mike Conaway (R-TX) $2,000
Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) $1,000
Lamar Smith (R-TX) $1,000
Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) $1,000

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