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Politics

Perry ‘super PAC’ fueled by a cadre of Texas businessmen

A veritable who’s who of wealthy Texans poured money into a “super PAC” backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry before his presidential bid collapsed this month, along with nearly a dozen corporations, new campaign finance filings show.

In all, Make Us Great Again, an independent political organization launched by former Perry chief of staff Mike Toomey and G. Brint Ryan, a longtime donor to Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns, raised nearly $5.5 million last year. The super PAC spent $4.8 million, mostly in television advertising backing Perry’s candidacy.

Nearly every donation was at least five figures, with most of the money coming from a cadre of rich businessmen who have been stalwart contributors to Perry’s gubernatorial bids over the years. Ryan put in $250,000, while home-builder Bob Perry gave $100,000 and telecommunications executive Kenny Trout gave $150,000.

But the biggest contributor was Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons, who gave Make Us Great Again $1 million through his company, Contran Corp. The Los Angeles Times/Tribune Washington Bureau reported last year that Simmons, who won permission to build a low-level radioactive waste disposal site in Texas, was among dozens of major donors who have benefited during Perry’s tenure in the governor’s office.

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Contran was one of 11 companies that gave money to the super PAC last year. The group got $100,000 from trash bag manufacturer Heritage Bag, $75,000 from Bar G Feedyard from Hereford, Texas, and $125,000 from Chesapeake Energy, a publicly traded natural gas producer based in Oklahoma City. Chesapeake’s political action committee gave the super PAC another $125,000.

matea.gold@latimes.com


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