Over the course of the 2020 election cycle, more than $662.5 million dollars were reported as contributions to Texas state-level candidates and PACs. Of that total, an astounding $46.9 million in donations went to Governor Greg Abbott’s campaign account. To put that number in context, Abbott’s donations account for seven percent of all Texas campaign contributions — and over 15 percent of candidate contributions — in an election cycle when he was not up for election.
Abbott’s account is now stocked with over $40 million cash-on-hand, more than double that of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who occupies the second spot on the list. So who has been funding Abbott these last two years, and perhaps even more interestingly, what has he done with the money so far? Let’s start with the contributions side of the equation.
At the top of the list of Abbott’s donors during the 2020 election cycle are several familiar names for those who follow state-level politics in Texas. After a $7.75 million transfer from one of his campaign accounts to another, Abbott’s list is replete with donors who frequently appear on top ten donor lists for high profile candidates and many who have supported Abbott in previous cycles:
Midland oil mogul Javaid Anwar has emerged in recent years as a major political donor not just to Republican candidates in Texas state politics but has contributed to federal-level campaigns as well, giving him national attention. Anwar is the founder and CEO of Midland Energy.
A regular donor in Texas politics, James Pitcock has made significant political donations to major state candidates and power brokers over the years. Pitcock is the owner of a major highway construction company based in Houston.
Ranch owners from the hill country in central Texas, Michael and Mary Porter burst onto the political donor scene in recent years, including two separate $1,000,000 contributions to Abbott, and other sizable contributions to Republican candidates. News recently broke that the couple intends to get heavily involved in Texas politics with the formation of the Texans for Responsible Government PAC.
Dallas based sand self-made billionaire Kenny Troutt made his fortune with his long-distance phone and technology company that he founded. Troutt has made a handful of political contributions this past cycle all to Republican candidates.
The son of billionaire businessman and former presidential candidate Ross Perot, you can tell politics runs in the Perot family. Perot Jr. has been a major supporter of Gov. Abbott, and a mainstay donor to Texas Republican candidates.
For those who spend a lot of time looking at campaign finance reports, one name that pops up frequently is Richard Weekly, and his influence in Texas politics cannot be overstated. Weekly is the co-founder of Texans for Lawsuit Reform – a pro-business political action committee that is among the most well-funded in Texas.
Following those top seven donors, an additional 20 individuals and PACs gave between $250,000 and $500,000 to Greg Abbott’s campaign account since January of 2019. Many of these are mega-donors you are likely to recognize, like Holloway Frost and Kathaleen Wall or the late Sheldon Adelson. Altogether, those donations come out to $20,823,588.21, less than half of the total contributions in the 2020 cycle.
|S Javaid Anwar||$1,617,500.00|
|James D Pitcock Jr||$1,176,050.00|
|Michael & Mary Porter||$1,000,000.00|
|Kenny A and Lisa Troutt||$650,000.00|
|H Ross Perot Jr||$556,449.60|
|Arch Aplin III||$500,000.00|
|Edward Roski Jr||$500,000.00|
|Kelcy L Warren||$500,000.00|
|R Drayton McLane Jr||$500,000.00|
|Ray L and Nancy Hunt||$500,000.00|
|Gulf States Toyota Inc. State PAC||$425,000.00|
|Paul L Foster||$391,864.45|
|Robert C and Pamela Lanham Jr||$375,000.00|
|Border Health PAC||$303,180.45|
|Robert B Rowling||$252,100.00|
|Holloway Frost & Kathaleen Wall||$250,000.00|
|Richard & Nancy Kinder||$250,000.00|
The rest of Abbott’s campaign contributions for the 2020 election cycle are made up of moderate-to-large donations as well as small-dollar donors. Dozens of donations in quantities like $100,000, $50,000, and $25,000 — and page after page of $10,000 donations — poured in over the course of the election cycle from individuals and PACs alike. Thousands more came in denominations like $10 and $5. With more than 41,500 unique donors, Abbott’s support base as governor is a prime example of just how powerful small donations can be when filling your campaign coffers.
For a year when he was not up for election, Governor Abbott’s campaign contributions were massive. The support came from the usual big donors, as well as many individuals and entities from across the political spectrum. There are many reasons an individual or a PAC might choose to donate to the sitting governor’s campaign account, whether to curry favor with power, throw support behind a candidate ahead of another big political move, or something more straightforward (a donation for a lunch attended, for example). Whatever the various motives, the money gave Abbott lots of heft to throw behind the candidates and causes he wanted to back, with millions to spare for any future plans. And there is plenty of speculation about a potential bid for president in 2024.
So who did receive support from Abbott’s abundant coffers during the 2020 cycle? We’ll delve into the other side of the finance reports in our next look at Governor Abbott. To begin putting the numbers into context for yourself, all of Abbott’s campaign account expenditures, as reported to the TEC, can be found here.
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