Cruz assumed office in 2012 after defeating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a bruising GOP primary fight — during which Perry contributed $600,000 to a pro-Dewhurst super PAC and contributed the legal maximum to Dewhurst’s campaign.
Perry and his wife, Doylene, each donated $2,600 to Cruz’s campaign on March 22, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of federal campaign finance records maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Last year, Cruz, a tea party favorite, forced Dewhurst into a run-off election, after no one earned more than 50 percent of the vote during the May 29 primary. A pro-Dewhurst super PAC called the Texas Conservatives Fund spent nearly $6 million on advertising during the two races, and Perry was the second-largest donor to the group behind fellow Texan Harold Simmons.
Ahead of the 2004 presidential election, both Perry and Simmons gained notoriety for funding the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group whose ads helped sink Democrat John Kerry’s run against President George W. Bush.
Pro-Cruz groups also spent millions on the Senate primary race, in which he ultimately bested Dewhurst by about 14 percentage points.
Representatives of Perry and Cruz could not immediately be reached for comment, although Cruz said Perry “never wanted anything in return, other than principled, effective leaders in government” in a statement marking Perry’s death in April.
Data from the Center for Responsive Politics also show that prior to his death, Perry donated to the campaigns of Reps. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; Randy Weber, R-Texas; and Bill Flores, R-Texas., as well as Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
Meanwhile, records filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s office indicate that Perry gave more than $75,000 in 2013, including $25,000 to the Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC and $25,000 to the political action committee of lobbying firm HillCo Partners. And Virginia campaign finance records indicate that Perry gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association in April.
Perry donated $3.1 million in 2013 to Republican super PACs, including $2 million to Texans for a Conservative Majority, $1 million to Senate Conservatives Action and $100,000 to Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, which is supporting the re-election of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as the Center for Public Integrity previously noted.