Meet the top ten individual donors to Texas political candidates and PACs in the last election cycle.
(10) T. Dan Friedkin – Owner and CEO of Gulf States Toyota, the largest private company in Houston. In 2016, according to Forbes, Mr. Friedkin ranked as the 162nd wealthiest person in the United States. In his spare time, Mr. Friedkin flies World War II-era P-51 Mustangs with an aerial acrobatic troupe. Over the course of the last election cycle he gave $807,602 to Texas candidates and PACs.
(9) Holloway Frost & Kathaleen Wall – This Houston power couple collectively gave $815,214 in the last cycle. Mr. Frost is founder and CEO of high tech company Texas Memory Systems. Ms. Wall has been known to give her time as well as her money to political causes, manning phone banks, block walking, and serving on various Republican committees.
(8) James D. Pitcock, Jr. – Mr. Pitcock is President and CEO of Williams Brothers Construction Company and resides in Houston. His company is one of the largest highway and bridge contractors in the state, undertaking projects both in Texas and across the nation. Mr. Pitcock gave $818,000 during the last cycle.
(7) Alice Walton – 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 is known for curating art and raising cutting horses. While her $828,000 in donations to Texas politics this cycle went only to Republicans, including some quite conservative candidates, Ms. Walton made headlines this year for her mega donations to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
(6) Peter & Julianna Holt – This San Antonio couple owns HoltCAT, the largest Caterpillar dealership in the United States, as well as Spurs Sports & Entertainment (including five-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, WNBA Stars, AHL Rampage, and other sports teams). Mr. Holt received the Purple Heart, Silver Star, and three Bronze Stars for his military service during the Vietnam War. The couple’s donations to Texas candidates and PACs in the last cycle totaled $945,000.
(5) John L. Nau III – Mr. Nau, who lives in Houston, is the President and CEO of Silver Eagle Distributors, the largest distributor of Anheuser-Busch products in the nation. In addition to his political interests, Mr. Nau is an avid American history buff and serves as chair of the Texas Historical Commission. Mr. Nau gave $1,091,541 in the last political cycle in Texas.
(4) Charles Butt – Mr. 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 $1,268,500 to Texas candidates and PACs during the last political cycle.
(3) Richard Weekley – Mr. Weekley is co-founder of Weekley Homes and co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR), a statewide tort reform organization. Since the 1990s, TLR has won hard-fought legislative victories, including preventing trial lawyers from “shopping” for juries, thus making Texas more business-friendly. Mr. Weekley resides in Houston and gave $1,317,552 in the last cycle.
(2) Robert McNair – A two-time cancer survivor, Mr. McNair owns the Houston Texans NFL franchise. He founded the cogeneration energy company CoGen Technologies. (Cogeneration is considered a thermodynamically efficient use of fuel.) Although he sold the company in 1999, he still retains ownership of power plants in West Virginia and New York. In the last cycle, Mr. McNair donated $1,492,500 to Texas candidates and PACs.
(1) Farris & JoAnn Wilks – Mr. and Mrs. Wilks live in Cisco, Texas, a small town between Abilene and Fort Worth. Along with Farris’s brother Dan, they founded one of the early oil and gas fracking companies, Frac Tech. The Wilks brothers come from humble beginnings, as the sons of a small town bricklayer. They are true Texas energy entrepreneurs. Farris and JoAnn Wilks topped the list of individual political donors by giving $2,425,234 to Texas candidates and PACs.
Note: the numbers reflected in this article are based on reported giving from 1/1/2015 – 6/30/2016.