In conservative and GOP money circles, Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons is almost a household name.
Simmons’ passion for helping GOP causes was demonstrated again this year via checks for $1 million apiece to the newly founded group American Crossroads that were written by two little-known companies in which the 79-year-old Texan has sizable holdings.
The checks were among the first to come in the door for American Crossroads. They came after a visit from Crossroads’ informal advisers Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie to talk up the important mission they envisioned for American Crossroads in helping GOP congressional candidates this fall.
Simmons was a natural target given the many millions of dollars he’s donated over the past decade to high profile conservative groups. In 2004, Simmons pumped $4 million into Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group that tried to raise questions about Sen. John Kerry’s Vietnam War record in the midst of his presidential campaign.
And in 2008, Simmons was listed as a $2.88 million donor to a group called the American Issues Project, which ran some of the most negative ads of that year’s presidential race, attempting to draw links between Barack Obama and ex-radical activist Bill Ayres.
Undoubtedly Simmons has long attracted money pitches because he’s been a fixture in the top 100 on Forbes’ famed list of America’s super rich: He currently ranks number 55, with personal worth pegged at almost $5 billion.
Simmons made his early money in real estate and drug stores before going into the buyout business and he’s worked with such legendary tycoons as T. Boone Pickens. Simmons, who lives in the exclusive Highland Hills area of Dallas, has also been a hefty money rustler for recent presidential runs of George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain.
Simmons’ wealth additionally includes large holdings in rather obscure companies like Southwest Louisiana Land LLC and Dixie Rice Agricultural Corp. Those are the two firms that wrote those checks for American Crossroads.
In the last few years, Simmons has garnered new attention because he’s been an outspoken advocate for moving radioactive nuclear waste to West Texas, a plan that reportedly would benefit a Simmons venture called Waste Control Specialists. A Texas regulatory commission is currently weighing the scheme, which has aroused opposition from environmental groups.