The Austin Chronicle

Top Nonsense and No Nonsense Contributors

By Amy Smith, October 21, 2005, News

Two of Gov. Rick Perry's most faithful campaign donors are the chief underwriters of campaigns to ban same-sex marriage in Texas, according to the latest filings of the Texas Ethics Commission.

Private school voucher proponent James Leininger, a San Antonio millionaire, provided Texans for Marriage with a $100,000 contribution, while Houston homebuilder Bob Perry (no relation to the governor) gave $10,000 to the Texas Marriage Alliance. Together the two contributions represented about 90% of both PACs' combined fundraising tally. Leininger and Perry are generous donors to the Republican Party. In fact, Bob Perry is Rick Perry's largest campaign donor.

Leininger and Bob Perry were also among the heavy hitters contributing to Tom DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority in the 2002 election cycle. DeLay, along with Texas Marriage Alliance consultants John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, face criminal charges in connection with TRMPAC's campaign activities.

In other campaign filings, a third pro-amendment PAC – a Texas offshoot of James Dobson's Colorado-based Focus on the Family – reported raising more than $3,200 in "in-kind" contributions that covered expenses for letter-writing and postage. All three pro-amendment groups reported a zero cash balance in the 30 days before the Nov. 8 election. The next deadline for filing campaign reports is Oct. 31.

On the other side of the battle, No Nonsense in November, the lead PAC working against the proposed amendment, raised $160,745 in contributions and spent $85,680. The Human Rights Campaign and the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas were the group's largest contributors, with each donating $25,000. Most of the PAC's contributions were amounts under $500.

A second anti-amendment PAC – Vote Against the Amendment – organized in Houston by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, reported raising and spending $159,694. Gay Colorado philanthropist Tim Gill gave the largest amount at $100,000. The Houston PAC devoted most of its resources to developing a TV ad campaign featuring gay couples and parents of gay children. The seven ads speak in support of same-sex marriage, marking the first ad campaign in the nation to take an in-your-face approach to defeating a constitutional measure that has passed in 18 other states.

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