Pioneer Spirit

Gov. George W. Bush calls them longtime friends and colleagues, pals who are lending his presidential campaign a hand. Critics call them a Who's Who of corporate and lobby bigwigs, solicitors who are scoring extra points with the Republican frontrunner by coordinating donations. They are Bush's überfundraisers, the "Pioneers."

Go ahead, snicker at the name, but the chunk of cash this group has gathered for the governor's 2000 presidential bid is no laughing matter. Each Pioneer has pledged to raise at least $100,000 (with limits of $1,000 from individuals and $5,000 from PACs). So far 115 have succeeded, which means that at the very least, these Pioneers have amassed about a third of the $37 million the Bush campaign has raised thus far. The moniker may be hokey, but the Pioneers are a vital cog in Bush's record-breaking fundraising machine; they're part of a sophisticated, unprecedented, and perfectly legal (although ethically questionable) bundling scheme.

illustration by Doug Potter

illustration by Doug Potter

Who are these elite hustlers? After criticism from his political opponents and prodding from campaign finance watchdogs, the Bush campaign last week released the names of the 115 who have hit their $100,000 goal. But there are still as many as 300 more unnamed Pioneers out there who haven't hit their $100,000 quota yet. Craig McDonald of Texans for Public Justice, a nonprofit, bi-partisan research organization that tracks the influence of money in politics, says that's unacceptable. "Our chief concern is, it skirts the spirit, if not the letter of the law," that limits individual campaign contributions, says McDonald, who has written a letter to the governor asking him to release all the names, addresses, occupations, and business affiliations of his fundraising Pioneers. "Almost all these names raise red flags," McDonald said. "When you look at the list, these are all people who have an economic interest in being close to the President. ... They're going to need bunk beds in the Lincoln bedroom."

Gov. Bush says the Pioneers are "a grassroots organization," not an effort to skirt campaign finance laws. But "grassroots" is a humble description of this powerhouse. Among the Pioneers named last week, three are Bush family members, and a number are old friends and business associates who have contributed to Bush's gubernatorial campaigns. Fifty-six are Texans (see list below), and three are attorneys with the Houston law firm Vinson & Elkins. Also on the list: lobbyist Wayne Berman, whose clients include sugar giant Flo-Sun Inc., and lobbyist J. Peter Terpeluk Jr., who counts the government of India among his clients; former Minnesota senator Rudy Boschwitz; Washington Rep. Jennifer Dunn; and Govs. John Engler of Michigan and Bill Owens of Colorado. For the names of all 115 fundraising Pioneers, their occupations, and the amount they have contributed to previous Bush campaigns, see the Texans for Public Justice Web site at http://www.tpj.org. ó Lisa Tozzi


TEXAS PIONEERS

Joe Allen Houston Attorney, Vinson & Elkins
Joe Barton Ennis U.S. congressman, House and Energy Commission chairman
Lee M. Bass Fort Worth President, Lee M. Bass, Inc.; member of billionaire oil family; Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission member
George Bayoud Dallas Former secretary of state under Gov. Bill Clements
Louis A. Beecherl San Antonio Investor,Texas Oil & Gas; Beecherl Investments, Former UT regent
Dennis R. Berman Dallas President, Denitech
Teel Bivins Amarillo/Austin Republican state senator; chair, Senate Education Committee
Michael Boone Dallas Attorney, Haynes & Boone
Dan Branch Dallas Attorney, Langley & Branch
Nancy Brinker Dallas Wife of Norman Brinker, Brinker International restaurant empire who gave Bush $34,500; founder of Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, largest privately funded organization dedicated solely to breast cancer research.
Claiborne Carrington San Antonio (no other information available)
Bill Ceverha Dallas State lobbyist, former state rep.; clients include Pioneer Louis Beecherl and PSG Inc.
Peter Coneway Houston Investment banker, Goldman Sachs & Co.; his wife gave Bush $35,000
Robert Dedman Jr. Dallas CEO, ClubCorp International; on National Center for Policy Analysis' Board
Bob Devlin Houston CEO, American General Financial
Jim Francis Dallas President, Francis Enterprises, Pioneers' coordinator
D. Stephen Goddard Houston Managing partner, Arthur Andersen LLP
Dick Heath Dallas CEO, BeautiControl Cosmetics
R. Steven Hicks Austin/Dallas CEO, Capstar Broadcasting Co.; brother Tom Hicks bought Texas Rangers from Bush
Roger Hirl Dallas Pres & CEO, Occidental Chemical Co.
Bob B. Holland III Dallas Senior VP, general counsel, Triton Energy
James Huffines Austin Investor, Morgan Keegan; Bank of Dallas
Gaylord Hughey Jr. Tyler Attorney, Hughey Oil Co.; attorney, Potter & Gunn
Thomas Johnson Austin Exec. director, Associated General Contractors of Texas
Walter Johnson Houston President & CEO, Southwest Bank of Texas
Don Jordan Houston CEO, Reliant Energy
Richard & Nancy Kinder Houston Chairman & CEO, Kinder Morgan Inc.; former CEO of Enron
David Laney Dallas Attorney, Jenkins & Gilchrist
Kenneth Lay Houston CEO, Enron; wife Linda gave Bush $22,500
Steve Letbetter Houston President, Reliant Energy
Tom & Nancy Loeffler San Antonio Tom: Attorney, Arter & Hadden; ex-member U.S. House of Reps; Bush appointee to UT Board of Regents
Thomas Marinis Jr. Houston Attorney, Vinson & Elkins; sits on board of directors at Phoenix House, substance abuse service org.
Dean & Andrea McWilliams Austin Dean: spokesman for former Texas Sen. Mike Galloway Andrea: independent lobbyist
Vance Miller Dallas CEO, Henry S. Miller Co.
Philip Montgomery III Dallas Owner, P.O.B. Montgomery & Co.
Charles Nash Austin Owner, Chuck Nash Chevrolet; former member of Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Dennis Nixon Laredo Banker, International Bancshares Corp.
Erle Nye Dallas CEO, Texas Utilities; Bush appointee to Texas A&M Board of Regents
Joseph O'Neill III Midland Managing partner, O'Neill Properties
Marshall Payne Dallas Investor, Cardinal Investment Corp.
Robert Pickens Dallas Investor, self-employed
Don Powell Amarillo President, First National Bank; Bush appointee to Texas A&M Board of Regents
Dub (A.W.) Riter Jr. Tyler Managing partner, Pinstripe Investments; Bush appointee by Bush to University of Texas Board of Regents
Raul Romero Houston CEO, S&B Infrastructure; Bush appointee to UT Board of Regents
Rusty (Edward) Rose III Dallas Partner, Cardinal Investments; former Bush business partner (Texas Rangers)
Tony (A.R.) Sanchez Jr. Laredo CEO, Sanchez-O'Brien Oil & Gas; oil, land, banking magnate; Bush appointee to UT Board of Regents
Nicholas Sarafy Brownsville Business executive, Performance Testing Services
Bud (Allan) Shivers Jr. Austin Consultant/investor, Waste Recovery Inc., Texans for Lawsuit Reform spokesman, son of former governor
Jack Vaughn Dallas Owner, Vaughn Petroleum
Roger Wallace San Antonio Consultant, PSI
Mrs. Jimmy Westcott Dallas Homemaker; related to Carl Westcott of Westcott Communications
Robert Whilden Jr. Houston Attorney, Vinson & Elkins
George Williams Houston Investment Banker, Williams Partners Inc.
Roger Williams Dallas? ?
Bob Wright Harlingen President, Wright Way Construction
Charles Wyly Jr. Dallas Executive, Sterling Software

This list was compiled by the Texans for Public Justice

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