Bob Perry, a Texas homebuilder and philanthropist who also had an immense influence on politics through his contributions to Republican candidates, has died at his home near Houston, the Texas Tribune reports. He was 80.
Mr. Perry was the third-largest political donor in the last election, giving $10 million to the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, $8.5 million to the Karl Rove-linked American Crossroads, and millions more to other Republican groups.
Between 2000 and 2010, he donated $28 million to Texas candidates and causes on top of $38 million to candidates and groups elsewhere, the Texas Tribune reported.
The Citizens United ruling that removed caps on individual donations at the federal level allowed his political giving to explode in 2010.
Mr. Perry, the founder of Perry Homes, was praised for his patriotism, loyalty and generosity by former Texas state Rep. Neal T. “Buddy” Jones, who said in a statement, “Bob Perry was a friend to many, many people all over the United States, and he was a true patriot. He will be sorely missed. Those of us who knew him were blessed by his friendship,” the Texas Tribune reported.
He attracted controversy in 2004 for his role in Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which questioned Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s military service.
When it comes to politics and the new world of unlimited contributions to super PACs, Mr. Perry’s passing highlighted the void that one person’s absence can create when a party relies heavily on donations from just a few people.
Three men and their families and companies — Sheldon Adelson, Bob Perry and Harold Simmons — gave $110 million to such outfits, more than 10 percent of what Mr. Obama raised from 4 million Americans.
It also spotlighted the advanced age of many of the GOP’s major donors: Mr. Adelson, is 79 and Mr. Simmons is 81.