Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 80, poured millions into conservative causes during his lifetime. He was part of an elite cohort of people able to write million-dollar checks, and over the course of his lifetime contributed to candidates, PACs, party committees and super PACs. Overall, he contributed $53 million, according to data in Influence Explorer.
Though he was overshadowed in the 2012 campaign by megadonors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, there were times during the contest when Perry “lead the pack” of super PAC donors, giving hefty amounts to Restore Our Future, which supported the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, and to American Crossroads, which invested heavily in defeating President Barack Obama and a host of Democratic Senate candidates. The Texan gave more than $15 million to American Crossroads and $10 million to Restore our Future, Influence Explorer records show.
Perry’s last minute donations to Restore our Future, Club for Growth Action and Independence Virginia PAC kept the conservative groups on the air during the final days of the campaign. His name appears again and again during the 2012 election.
Former Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman’s American Action Network, Inc. gained major support from Perry's donations. Perry and his wife were also large donors for NRA spokesman Asa Hutchinson’s gubernatorial run.
However, Perry’s political donations started well before the explosion of money in 2012 . Perry was part of a group of elite donors that had been in the game before Citizen’s United opened the donation flood gates–“the same old guns, just more money." He was “the single largest donor to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth at $4.45 million. The Swift Boat Vets ran advertisements in the 2004 campaign to cast doubt on the Vietnam War career of then Democratic presidnetial candidate John Kerry.
In his public profile, Perry will be remembered as a very successful businessman and a “member of the GOP underwriting dynasty.” And it's entirely possible that his largesse will go on after his death–under campaign finance laws, estates of individuals can contribute to candidates and super PACs, and several trusts donated to super PACs in 2012.