Money and Democracy

Published — January 31, 2012 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Big oil fuels Pro-Perry super PAC, contributions total $5.5 million

GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry Steve Helber/AP

Oil companies fueled pro-Perry outside spending group


Make Us Great Again,” the presidential super PAC that supported Texas Gov. Rick Perry, raised $5.5 million, according to election reports filed Tuesday with a big chunk of the funds coming from energy companies.

Oil companies and executives dominated the list of contributors giving at least $1.3 million, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of the government filing.

The largest amount given by a single donor was from Contran Corp., of Dallas, which gave two $500,000 contributions for a total of $1 million. Contran Corp. is a large holding company with diverse interests. It is controlled by Texas billionaire and mega-donor Harold Simmons who has supported Perry in Texas politics.

Such corporate contributions would be illegal were it not for the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010, which allowed corporations and labor unions to fund ads to support or oppose a candidate.

Make us Great Again was founded by Mike Toomey, a former chief of staff to Perry. Toomey gave $100,000 to the super PAC as did Texas homebuilder Bob Perry. The group ran mostly positive ads showing Perry in a favorable light.

The closeness of the super PAC to Perry’s campaign was cause for some controversy, leading several good government groups to file a complaint with the FEC. The groups claimed that Make Us Great Again shared video with the Perry campaign to be used in advertisements.

Perry endorsed Newt Gingrich when he dropped out of the race. He is not term limited in Texas and may make another run for governor.

The super PAC reported $605,000 cash on hand.

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