The Both Sides of the Money in Texas Politics

I’ll tell you the reality right up front, and save those of you who don’t want to wade through a bunch of charts and data a bit of time.

There isn’t really a both sides. I’ve pulled the top 25 individual donors to Texas state level races (everything that has to be filled with the Texas Ethics Commission) from January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2021, a full 6 1/2 years. There is a solid confluence with millions of dollars flowing into Republican candidates from the majority of those 25. For all intents and purposes, it doesn’t exist on the Democratic side.

2015–2021 Relationship map of top 25 donors and who they gave to

The political world loves the “both sides are doing it” narrative, as it gives them justification for taking that big check, then taking that meeting, and potentially listening to that donor just a little more than they listen to the rest of us. The dialogue and donations they can drive with the fear tactics of “George Soros, George Soros, and yeah, George Soros” is just one of the reasons we have this false straw man. So, from here, let’s start digging in and uncovering the realities of the millions in Texas politics.

Before we go too deep, on the relationship maps (bubble charts), the contributors are light green, “non-partisan” PACs are dark green, Democrats / Democrat only PACs are in blue, Republicans / Republican only PACs are red. I only shaded down to the $100,000 received level. Meaning, the grey bubbles have received less than $100,000 from the top 25 donors captured below. And, the circles are scaled to reflect how much money a group or individual gave / received (Greg Abbott is the giant red ball)

From January 1, 2015 through June 30, 2021 $1,383,157,800 in campaign finance contributions have been reported to the Texas Ethics Commission in Austin, covering 4,837 different filers across the following filing classes:

  • Candidates / Office Holders (COH)
  • Judicial Candidates / Office Holders (JCOH)
  • General Political Action Committees (GPAC)
  • Specific Political Action Committees (SPAC)
  • Judicial Specific Political Action Committee (JSPC)
  • County Executive Committees (CEC)
  • Legislative Caucuses (LEG)
  • Party Contributions from Corporations or Labor Unions (PTYCORP)
  • Supreme Court Candidates / Office Holders (SCC)
  • Speaker (SPK)

$1,383,157,800 from 895,782 contributors. Simple math puts that at $1,544 per contributor. Makes it feel pretty diversified, where lots of people are involved. And yeah, almost 900k contributors is a lot. But what if I told you almost 10% of the total, $139,679,397 came from just 25 people? And the money they are pouring in is accelerating?

Contributions from the top 25 individuals donors to Texas state level politics by year

Who are these people and who are they giving to? I’m glad you asked.

25. Darwin Deason

An American billionaire businessman and political donor. He founded Affiliated Computer Services in 1988, and sold it to Xerox for $6.4 billion in 2010, becoming Xerox’ largest individual shareholder (6%, as of 2016)

Darwin & Doug Deason contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Darwin Deason gave $2,194,000 to 91 different filers. When you add in what his son Doug gave, that pushes the total up to $2,929,478.

  • $737,500 to Greg Abbott
  • $427,846 to Dan Patrick
  • $211,318 to Ken Paxton
  • $166,000 to the Dallas County Republican Party
Darwin Deason relationship map

24. Alice Walton

An American heiress to the fortune of Walmart. In September 2016, she owned over US$11 billion in Walmart shares. As of August 2021, Walton has a net worth of $64.6 billion, making her the 17th-richest person, and the second richest woman in the world according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index

Alice Walton contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Alice Walton gave $2,787,150 to 44 different filers. Alice Walton is a pusher of Charter Schools. Big time.

  • $1,110,000 to Charter Schools Now PAC
  • $400,050 to Greg Abbott
  • $229,800 to Dan Patrick
  • $225,000 to Legacy 44 (a pro-charter school PAC playing off the Obama legacy)
  • $180,000 to Jeffrey Judson
  • $155,000 to Leadership for Educational Equity — Texas (another pro-charter group)
Alice Walton relationship map

23. Robert Rowling

An American billionaire businessman, and the founder of TRT Holdings, the holding company of Omni Hotels. As of October 2021, his net worth was estimated at US$4.8 billion.

Robert Rowling contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Robert Rowling gave $2,789,492 to 57 different filers.

  • $1,002,100 to Greg Abbott
  • $550,000 to Dan Patrick
  • $275,000 to Associated Republicans of Texas Campaign Fund
  • $125,000 to Texans for Lawsuit Reform
  • $100,000 to Texans for Eva Guzman
Robert Rowling relationship map

22. Paul Foster

An American businessman who is the CEO of Franklin Mountain Investments. He is the founder and former chairman of the board of Western Refining, a Fortune 200 and Global 2000 oil refiner and marketer based in El Paso, Texas.

Paul Foster contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Paul Foster gave $2,999,225 to 38 different filers.

  • $1,536,507 to Greg Abbott
  • $500,000 to Associated Republicans of Texas Campaign Fund
  • $350,000 to Dan Patrick
  • $100,000 to Texans for Lawsuit Reform
Paul Foster relationship map

21. Michael Bloomberg

An American businessman, billionaire, politician, philanthropist, and author. He is the majority owner and co-founder of Bloomberg L.P. Forbes ranked him as the twentieth-richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $59 billion as of September 15, 2021. He was the Mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013, and was a candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president of the United States.

Michael Bloomberg contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Michael Bloomberg gave $3,100,825 to 4 different filers.

  • $2,660,825 to Chrysta Castaneda
  • $285,000 to Democrats for Educational Equity PAC
  • $150,000 to Leadership for Educational Equity — Texas
Michael Bloomberg relationship map

20. Ray Hunt

An American billionaire businessman. Forbes ranked him as the 188th-richest person in the United States, with an estimated net worth of $6.1 billion as of October 21, 2021. Hunt is the wealthiest of legendary oil wildcatter H.L. Hunt’s 15 children. He chairs Hunt Consolidated, an oil and gas, real estate and investing conglomerate. Hunt Oil is one of the largest privately-held oil companies in the U.S.

Ray Hunt contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Ray Hunt gave $3,405,209 to 73 different filers.

  • $1,130,944 to Greg Abbott
  • $700,000 to Dan Patrick
  • $515,000 to the Republican Party of Texas
  • $205,000 to Associated Republicans of Texas Campaign Fund
  • $130,000 to Christi Craddick
Ray Hunt relationship map

19. Gary Gates

An American millionaire businessman, who ran for office 7 times unsuccessfully before winning on the 8th, where he currently serves in the Texas House. The link on his name is to an article from 2016 published by Empower Texans, detailing the 7th run for office. Gates made his fortune owning and operating apartment complexes in the Houston area.

Gary Gates contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Gary Gates gave $3,754,528 to 49 different filers.

  • $3,100,413 to his own campaigns
  • $414,526 to Texas Citizens Coalition (which is 100% funded by Gary Gates)
Gary Gates relationship map

18. Drayton McLane

An American billionaire businessman. He is chairman of the McLane Group, a holding company with a portfolio of various diverse enterprises. He was, until 1990, the CEO of the McLane Company, a grocery and food service warehouse, supply, and logistics firm, and was, from 1993 until 2011, the chairman and CEO of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros. As of October 2021, his net worth was estimated at US$2.9 billion.

Drayton McLane contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Drayton McLane gave $3,806,550 to 67 different filers.

  • $1,500,000 to Greg Abbott
  • $950,000 to Dan Patrick
  • $255,000 to Ken Paxton
  • $180,000 to Texans for Lawsuit Reform
  • $117,500 to Sid Miller
Drayton McLane relationship map

17. Kenny Troutt

An American billionaire businessman. Kenny Troutt founded long-distance phone company Excel Communications in 1988 and took the company public in 1996. In 1998, Troutt sold Excel Communications to Teleglobe in a $3.5 billion deal and reinvested the profits in stocks, bonds and horses. He is currently worth $1.5 billion as of October 21, 2021.

Kenny Troutt contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Kenny Troutt gave $3,913,700 to 21 different filers.

  • $2,425,000 to Greg Abbott
  • $525,000 to Dan Patrick
  • $400,000 to Ken Paxton
  • $215,000 to Texans for Lawsuit Reform
Kenny Troutt relationship map

16. Kelcy Warren

An American billionaire businessman, Kelcy Warren cofounded pipeline company Energy Transfer with Ray C. Davis (now also a billionaire) in 1996. Warren stepped down as CEO in October 2020 but remains executive chairman. He is currently worth $4 billion as of October 21, 2021.

Kelcy Warren contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Kelcy Warren gave $4,160,750 to 24 different filers.

  • $2,250,000 to Greg Abbott
  • $600,000 to Dan Patrick
  • $265,000 to Glenn Hegar
  • $250,000 to American Freedom Fund
  • $250,000 to Texas Coalition for State Parks (yeah for parks!)
  • $150,000 to Ken Paxton
  • $125,000 to Ryan Sitton
Kelcy Warren relationship map

15. H Ross Perot Jr

An American billionaire businessman, Ross Perot Jr. founded real estate development company Hillwood, whose diversified portfolio is estimated to exceed 42 million square feet. His father, late billionaire presidential candidate Ross Perot Sr., let his son borrow against his fortune to start his real estate empire. Perot Jr.’s Hillwood has developed and acquired more than 200 million square feet of industrial space and 90 residential communities. He is currently worth $3.2 billion as of October 21, 2021.

H Ross Perot contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, H Ross Perot gave $4,477,700 to 64 different filers.

  • $1,464,200 to Greg Abbott
  • $1,450,000 to Texans for Lawsuit Reform
  • $525,000 to Dan Patrick
  • $237,000 to Associated Republicans of Texas Campaign Fund
H Ross Perot relationship map

14. Sheldon Adelson

Was an American businessman, investor, political donor and philanthropist. He was the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corporation. His wife Miriam is currently worth $30.4 billion as of October 21, 2021.

Sheldon Adelson relationship map

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Sheldon Adelson gave $4,795,000 to 4 different filers.

  • $4,500,000 to Republican State Leadership Committee
  • $250,000 to Greg Abbott
Sheldon Adelson contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

13. Mayes Middleton

An American millionaire businessman. He is the president of Middleton Oil Company. He currently serves in the Texas House of Representatives.

Mayes Middleton relationship map

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Mayes Middleton gave $4,813,379 to 117 different filers.

  • $3,287,393 to his own campaigns
  • $302,500 to Empower Texans
  • $137,652 to Galveston Windstorm Action Committee
  • $100,000 to Texas House Republican Caucus
Mayes Middleton contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

12. S Javaid Anwar

S Javaid Anwar of Midland is owner and president of Midland Energy, Inc., Petroplex Energy, Inc. and Western T. Corporation.

S Javaid Anwar relationship map

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, S Javaid Anwar gave $5,141,848 to 22 different filers.

  • $3,200,583 to Greg Abbott
  • $715,265 to Dan Patrick
  • $295,000 to Ken Paxton
  • $260,000 to Christi Craddick
  • $150,000 to Ryan Sitton
  • $100,000 to George P Bush
  • $100,000 to Drew Springer
S Anwar Javaid contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

11. George Soros

HEY LOOK! It’s George Soros! A Hungarian-born American billionaire investor and philanthropist. He is currently worth $8.6 billion as of October 21, 2021. His relationship map isn’t nearly as exciting as some would have you believe.

George Soros relationship map

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, George Soros gave $5,236,463 to 3 different filers.

  • $3,679,863 to Texas Justice & Public Safety
  • $1,465,600 to Texas Safety & Justice
  • $100,000 to Beat Abbott
George Soros contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

10. John Nau

Nau is President and Chief Executive Officer of Silver Eagle Distributors, L.P., the nation’s largest distributor of Anheuser-Busch products, a position he has held since 1990.

John Nau relationship map

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, John Nau gave $5,290,009 to 93 different filers.

  • $2,017,678 to Associated Republicans of Texas Campaign Fund
  • $800,072 to Greg Abbott
  • $372,148 to Dan Patrick
  • $350,000 to Texans for Lawsuit Reform
  • $342,618 to Beer Alliance of Texas
John Nau contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

9. Jan Duncan

The spouse of Dan Duncan, who passed away in 2010. Dan was the co-founder, chairman and majority shareholder of Enterprise Products. At the time of his death, Dan was worth $9.0 billion.

Jan Duncan relationship map

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Jan Duncan gave $5,692,976 to 44 different filers.

  • $2,878,646 to Pro-Life America General Purpose Committee
  • $1,330,000 to Texans for Lawsuit Reform
  • $1,000,000 to Republican State Leadership Committee
  • $210,500 to Greg Abbott
  • $100,000 to Dan Patrick
Jan Duncan contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

8. James Pitcock

An American businessman, Pitcock is the owner, Chairman of the Board, and CEO of Williams Brothers Construction Company, one of the largest highway / heavy construction contractors in the nation.

James Pitcock relationship map

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, James Pitcock gave $6,056,050 to 33 different filers.

  • $3,501,050 to Greg Abbott
  • $1,100,000 to Dan Patrick
  • $350,000 to Joe Straus
  • $200,000 to Robert Nichols
  • $150,000 to Glenn Hegar
  • $145,000 to Associated Republicans of Texas Campaign Fund
  • $120,000 to John Whitmire
  • $100,000 to Republican Party of Texas
  • $100,000 to Texans for Lawsuit Reform
James Pitcock contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

7. Michael & Mary Porter

The Porters own the Cross Creek Ranch in Doss, Texas and have become large donors to Republicans since 2017.

Michael and Mary Porter relationship map

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Michael and Mary Porter gave $7,221,025 to 31 different filers.

  • $3,286,957 to Greg Abbott
  • $1,000,000 to Texans for Responsible Government
  • $1,000,000 to Republican State Leadership Committee
  • $500,000 to Dawn Buckingham
  • $300,000 to Texans for Lawsuit Reform
  • $300,000 to Ken Paxton
  • $200,000 to Dan Patrick
  • $100,000 to Dade Phelan
Michael and Mary Porter contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

6. Phillip Huffines

Twin brother to Don Huffines, his grandfather started the Huffines Motor Company, which has grown to a large network of DFW dealerships. Phillip and Don are the founders of Huffines Communities, a real estate company.

Phillip Huffines relationship map

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Phillip Huffines gave $8,104,385 to 53 different filers.

  • $5,824,123 to his own campaign for Texas Senate (he lost)
  • $2,148,200 to his brother Don Huffines
Phillip Huffines contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

5. Tim Dunn

Dunn is the co-founder and chief executive officer of the oil and gas business CrownQuest Operating, LLC. He served as the chairman of the board of directors of Empower Texans and is also vice chairman of the board of directors at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Tim Dunn relationship map

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Tim Dunn gave $8,278,858 to 69 different filers.

  • $3,365,000 to Empower Texans
  • $1,702,658 to Shelley Luther
  • $615,000 to Jeff Cason
  • $605,000 to Ken Paxton
  • $407,000 to Tony Tinderholt
  • $225,000 to Bryan Slaton
  • $215,000 to Defend Texas Liberty
  • $214,250 to Jonathan Stickland
  • $125,000 to Texas Right to Life
  • $100,000 to Don Huffines
Tim Dunn contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

4. Karla Jurvetson

Karla Jurvetson is an American physician, philanthropist, and political organizer who lives in Silicon Valley.

Karla Jurvetson relationship map

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Karla Jurvetson gave $8,441,674 to 37 different filers.

  • $4,087,320 to Forward Majority Action Texas
  • $3,900,000 to Forward Majority Action (different filing ID but combined on bubble diagram)
  • $124,952 to Act Blue Texas
Karla Jurvetson contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

3. Richard and David Weekley

Dick Weekley is businessman and philanthropist. He founded Weekley Properties, a commercial real estate brokerage firm in 1973. Along with his brother, David, he co-founded David Weekley Homes, which saw 2019 revenues of $2.17 billion. Dick co-founded Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR).

Richard Weekley relationship map

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Richard and David Weekley gave $8,787,160 to 268 (yeah, you saw that number correctly) different filers.

  • $4,075,357 to Texans for Lawsuit Reform
  • $660,000 to Greg Abbott
  • $567,250 to Harris County Republican Party
  • $279,420 to Houston Realty Business Coalition
  • $241,000 to Republican Party of Texas
  • $150,000 to Paul Simpson
  • $120,000 to Charter Schools Now
  • $115,000 to Ken Paxton
  • $109,345 to Dallas County Republican Party
  • $100,000 to Texans for Eva Guzman
  • $100,000 to Texas Conservative Coalition
Richard and David Weekley contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

2. Farris & Dan Wilks

Farris and his brother Dan got a combined $3.5 billion (pretax) in 2011 selling their fracking company to a group led by Singapore-based firm Temasek. The brothers have acquired more than 672,000 acres of land in six different states across the West, becoming America’s 12th-largest landowners. As of October 21, 2021, they are worth $2.4 billion.

Farris and Dan Wilks relationship map

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Farris and Dan Wilks gave $9,558,019 to 55 different filers.

  • $2,444,500 to Empower Texans
  • $2,375,000 to Texas Right to Life
  • $1,142,500 to Jon Francis
  • $600,000 to Texans for Fiscal Responsibility
  • $461,472 to Mike Lang
  • $337,500 to Texas Home School Coalition
  • $326,000 to Ken Paxton
  • $268,000 to Jonathan Stickland
  • $200,000 to Dan Patrick
  • $197,500 to Bob Hall
  • $100,000 to Shelley Luther
  • $100,000 to Don Huffines
Farris and Dan Wilks contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021
  1. Charles Butt

An American heir and billionaire. He inherited his family’s San Antonio–based H-E-B supermarket chain in 1971. The privately held company has more than 300 stores and $20 billion in sales, according to Forbes.

Charles Butt relationship map

From 1/1/2015–06/30/2021, Charles Butt gave $14,171,959 to 186 different filers.

  • $10,003,359 to The Charles Butt Public Eduction PAC
  • $950,000 to Greg Abbott
  • $250,000 to H-E-B PAC
  • $195,000 to Texas House Leadership Fund
  • $114,600 to Dennis Bonnen
  • $100,000 to Joe Straus
Charles Butt contributions from 1/1/2015–06/30/2021

And here is where the “both sides” piece just falls apart.

Aggregate all of that giving from the top 25 donors. When you look at the individual candidates and partisan PACs (where the party is called out in the title) from January 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021, you see:

$40,389,397 to Rs

$3,398,231 to Ds

The average contribution to a Republican candidate or PAC was $48,197.

The average contribution to a Democratic candidate or PAC was $15,377.

Even when one of those top 25 donors was writing checks to the Democratic candidates, it was 1/3 the size.

So please, just get out of here with the both sides boogeyman. I’m not having it. And you shouldn’t either.

We need real reform in our political processes, starting with campaign finance. But don’t believe for a second that those currently in power will let it happen.

If you’d like to access and play with all of the pie charts and such, looking for specific candidates or contributors, just click here.

And if you like the bubble charts, you can access that here.