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Mystery Men Mysterious No More

Who are those masked big donors?

Never heard of Dr. James Leininger or Bob Perry? Don't worry, you will, if Texas Dems have anything to say about it.

According to the "Money in PoliTex" report issued by Texans for Public Justice, these conservative ideologues were the two biggest donors during the 2006 election. They dumped a combined $12 million into Repub­lican campaign coffers, or rather, into the campaigns of hand-selected candidates who followed their conservative creeds. Amber Moon of the Texas Democratic Party called it "the Leininger effect," where increasingly radical Republicans are winning primaries and elections on the back of big-donor money. For election attorney and campaign finance expert Buck Wood, now it's a campaign issue. "That money from the Leiningers of the world is going to be used against Republicans who take it. Because they're buying this candidate who claims he's representing you, but he's representing Leininger or Perry."

If the strategy pays off, Wood expects the moneymen to back away or even be pushed away by candidates who realize their name association is a liability. That's a big change from 2006, when their check-writing was almost brazen. "They threw a lot of money at campaigns very late last time around, and it's kind of hard to counter that in a very short period of time. They can't sneak up on anyone this time."

Continue reading at austinchronicle.com/chronic, posted Friday, Oct. 5.

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