Charles Butt is Chairman and CEO of grocery store chain HEB and is listed by Forbes as both the richest man in his hometown of San Antonio and among America’s billionaires. Though he has no children of his own, he considers supporting public schools among his highest priorities. He gave $1,975,500 to Texas candidates and PACs during the last political cycle.
Interestingly, in Texas, HEB stores receive an estimated $2.89 billion of federal monies through food stamp reimbursements. Mr. Butt gives to both Republicans and Democrats, but notably, does not donate to those Republican legislators who have been the most vocal calling for food stamp reform.
While Mr. Butt has voted in both parties’ primaries in the last handful of election cycles, he chose to vote in the Democrat primary in 2016.
Here’s an overview of Charles Butt’s giving from the last election cycle:
|Charles Butt – A Closer Look|
|Total Number of Donations||206|
|Average Donation Amount||$9,589.81|
|Donations to Republicans||$1,586,500|
|Donations to Democrats||$161,500|
|Donations to Texas House Candidates||$917,000|
|Percentage of Donations to Texas House Candidates||46.42%|
|Donations to Texas Senate Candidates||$181,000|
|Percentage of Donations to Texas Senate Candidates||9.16%|
|Donations to Statewide Candidates||$645,000|
|Percentage of Donations to Statewide Candidates||32.65%|
|Donations to Advocacy Groups||$230,000|
|Percentage of Donations to Advocacy Groups||11.64%|
|Donations Given Inside Home District||$15,000|
|Percentage of Donations Inside Home District||.76%|
|Donations Given Outside Home District||$1,960,500|
|Percentage of Donations Outside Home District||99.24%|
Key takeaways from Mr. Butt’s giving:
Most interesting donation:
Mr. Butt’s decision to sit out one of the most high profile races in the 2016 cycle is noteworthy, as it occurred in his own backyard. Mr. Butt resides in State Senate District 26, a Democrat stronghold, where State Senator Jose Menendez defeated Former State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (both men were serving in the Texas House at the time of the race). State Sen. Menendez was seen by many as the business-friendly Democrat, while State Rep. Fischer had made a name for himself as a bomb thrower, often at odds with House leadership. Mr. Butt did not take a side in the race, giving to State Sen. Menendez only after he’d won both the primary and the general election. As a resident of SD 26, and as one of the most prolific donors in all of Texas with over 200 donations in the last election cycle, it seems odd Mr. Butt would stay on the sidelines of one of the most important races of 2016.
**Correction: a previous version of this post noted that Mr. Butt is against public school choice. Statements made by Mr. Butt and his financial support of various organizations point to his openness to public school choice, but not private school choice.
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, providing context so citizens can determine the motivation behind the donor’s giving. Stay tuned for the next installment.