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Perry 'super PAC' fueled by a cadre of Texas businessmen

January 31, 2012|By Matea Gold
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has since dropped out of the GOP presidential race, salutes at Hyatt Place in North Charleston, S.C.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has since dropped out of the GOP presidential… (Allison Joyce / Getty Images )

Reporting from Washington — 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.

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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