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Tag Archive: Harold Simmons

Breaking the limit: How the stealthy wealthy engaged in checkbook lobbying

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Striking down the limits on how many federal candidates and party committees an individual can shower with campaign cash--the main issues in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission--would not only open the door to bigger money in politics, it could also open the door to stealth lobbying campaigns on Capitol Hill by well-heeled donors. We know that because it already has happened, when limits were in place but not enforced. More than two decades ago, when Congress considered reforms that would put the brakes on hostile takeovers by corporate raiders, some of them used their checkbooks and their access to derail the effort without ever disclosing their lobbying efforts. Back in 1989, federal election law limited the amount an individual could give to candidates, parties and political action committees to $25,000. That year Texas billionaire and corporate takeover artist Harold C. Simmons contributed $45,500. That year Simmons, a staunch Republican now best known for seven-figure contributions to groups like Swift Boat Vets for Truth and American Crossroads, gave plenty to GOP pols. But, unusual for him, he also wrote $1,000 checks to Democratic stalwarts like Sens. David Boren, D-Okla., Paul Simon, D-Ill., and Max Baucus, D-Mont., as well as a $15,000 check to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Texas billionaire Harold C. Simmons

He contributed even more the year before--nearly $70,000, almost $45,000 over the limit. And he had plenty of company. Ronald O. Perelman, chairman of McAndrews and Forbes and, like Simmons, a corporate raider, gave $32,500 that year. Henry R. Kravis, whose firm Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts led a hostile takeover of RJR Nabisco that closed in December 1988, contributed $62,000 to federal candidates, PACs and party committees. They had good reason to. In 1988, Congress was considering legislation to address leveraged buy outs, or LBOs, through which high flying investors like Simmons, Perelman and Kravis acquired companies using mountains of debt. Most, but not all, raiders then sold off the most profitable divisions of the company, canceled pensions and siphoned off any excess money in the retirement fund, and laid off workers.

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Sheldon Adelson writes another million dollar check for new super PAC

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Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the most prolific campaign contributor this election, has written another million dollar check--this time, to a little-known super PAC called "Freedom PAC" that first popped-up last month. The contribution was disclosed in the group's quarterly filing, submitted to the Federal Election Commission on Monday.

According to it's website, the PAC--which lists a New York address--is devoted to "supporting strong conservative candidates in Florida," in particular Rep. Connie Mack, who's running for senate.

Besides Adelson's contribution, the PAC took in $91,000, including $5,000 from Contran CEO Harold Simmons, who's also ...

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Adelson gives Gingrich a lifeline

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In February, casino magnate and pro-Israel advocate Sheldon Adelson, along with his wife, Miriam, bet $5 million more on Newt Gingrich's flagging presidential bid by contributing to his super PAC, Winning our Future. This makes the couple the source of five out of six dollars raised by the super PAC since it launched late last year. Their daughter, Shelley, contributed another $500,000.

Gingrich has not been nearly as lucky with fundraising the traditional way. Paperwork filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission suggests that Newt 2012 is under water. Gingrich's campaign reported had $1.5 million in ...

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Stealthy wealthy: How Harold Simmons’ political giving has benefited his business empire

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Photo by the Dallas Morning News

(This is the first in an occasional series that will shine a light on little known but highly influential donors.) 

Even under the post-Citizens United campaign finance rules that unleashed a new generation of mega-donors, Harold Simmons stands out as old political money.

The Dallas-based billionaire, dubbed the king of superfund sites after acquiring an environmentally-challenged company, has gotten plenty of attention for the $10 million he’s given super PACs in the first four months of this year.

But a closer examination of the record shows that Simmons’  2012 donations are just the ...

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Simmons-controlled company fights for protectionist measures

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When Titanium Metals Corp., a defense contractor that's part of Harold Simmons's business empire, lobbied for protectionist policies designed to shield it from foreign competition, the fight allied the Texas billionaire and Republican mega-donor with some unlikely political bedfellows, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, a liberal Democrat from Ohio, and a union that overwhelmingly gives to Democrats. 

Of the more than $34 million that Harold Simmons, his wife and daughters have contributed to politicians, parties and political organizations, just $520,000 has benefited Democrats. 

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