Wal-Mart heiress and Fort Worth resident Alice Walton is, according to Forbes, the wealthiest person in Texas and the richest woman in the world. Ms. Walton’s giving this cycle encompassed an interesting mix of candidates. Her $945,500 to Texas politics included four Democrat candidates, one moderate Republican in Texas House leadership, and several conservative challengers seeking to upset the current power structure of the Texas House. In addition, and not reflected in the numbers below, Ms. Walton made headlines this year for her mega donations to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Ms. Walton supported a variety of candidates this cycle, from both ends of the political spectrum. As an example, although she donated to Democrat candidates, she also contributed $10,000 to State Representative Matt Rinaldi, considered by many to be the most conservative member of the Texas House of Representatives.
Here’s an overview of Ms. Walton’s giving from the past election cycle:
|Alice Walton – A Closer Look|
|Total Number of Donations||26|
|Average Donation Amount||$36,365.39|
|Donations to Republicans||$635,500|
|Donations to Democrats||$30,000|
|Donations to Texas House Candidates||$280,500|
|Percentage of Donations to Texas House Candidates||29.67%|
|Donations to Texas Senate Candidates||$30,000|
|Percentage of Donations to Texas Senate Candidates||3.17%|
|Donations to Statewide Candidates||$350,000|
|Percentage of Donations to Statewide Candidates||37.02%|
|Donations to Advocacy Groups||$280,000|
|Percentage of Donations to Advocacy Groups||29.61%|
|Donations Given Inside Home District||$30,000|
|Percentage of Donations Inside Home District||3.17%|
|Donations Given Outside Home District||$915,500|
|Percentage of Donations Outside Home District||96.83%|
Key takeaways from Ms. Walton’s giving:
Most interesting donation:
While Ms. Walton showed a willingness to support challengers to some of the most powerful members of the Texas House, one gift stands in stark contrast to this trend. Her collective giving of $30,000 to State Representative Charlie Geren of Fort Worth, one of Speaker Straus’ closest confidants, doesn’t fit with the rest of her giving. The logical reason behind this gift is the fact that Ms. Walton resides in State Rep. Geren’s district. There is likely a personal relationship there, and possibly family ties. Yet, for all the money she has poured into changing the status quo in Austin, particularly concerning education, her support of State Rep. Geren is quite the head-scratcher.
**Note: this article originally used donation information from 1/1/2015 – 6/30/2016, as that was the only available data at the time of publication. Since then, numbers throughout the article have been updated to reflect all giving from 1/1/2015 – 12/10/2016.
Our A Closer Look series provides a breakdown of a particular donor’s giving habits within Texas politics. We specifically analyze to whom money is given and when, thus providing context so citizens can determine the motivation behind the donor’s giving. Stay tuned for the next installment.