Who was Bob Perry?

April 15, 2013

One of the Republican Party's biggest donors, the largest funder of one of the most well-known attack ad campaigns in modern campaign history, and the man who helped Mitt Romney in a big way last year died on Saturday night at the age of 80.

His name was Bob Perry.


Bob Perry, pictured above in 2002, died Saturday night, former Texas state Rep. Neal Jones, a close family friend, said late Sunday. He was 80. (Melissa Phillip/AP)

Who? Exactly. While the low-profile, behind-the-scenes lifestyle Perry kept up meant that few people outside of his inner circle and the nerdiest-of-nerdy political types knew who he was, most people are probably familiar with some of the causes on which he spent his fortune. Here's a look back at where Perry made his mark in politics:

* Swift Boat Veterans for Truth: Perry, a Texas native who made his fortune in the home-building industry, gave over $4 million to a high-profile third-party group that questioned then-presidential candidate John Kerry's military record in the 2004 campaign. Perry was the biggest donor to the effort, which caused Kerry problems during the campaign. Here's a sampling of the organization's advertising:

* Major Romney ally in 2012: According to the Center For Responsive Politics, Perry gave $10 million to Restore Our Future, the biggest pro-Mitt Romney super PAC of the 2012 cycle. Perry's $3 million donation in February 2012 accounted for nearly half its entire monthly haul. The group served was an effective vehicle for attacks against Romney's two main GOP opponents, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

Perry shelled out more than $23 million to outside groups during the 2012 cycle, a total eclipsed by only two other donors. All told, he gave $18 million to Romney and group supporting his candidacy. Kerry took notice, sending a fundraising note to supporters warning of a "swiftboating" effort against President Obama.


(Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

* Gave big to American Crossroads in 2010: During the 2010 midterm elections, an immensely successful cycle for Republicans, Perry gave $7 million to the GOP group American Crossroads, making him the organization's single largest donor that cycle. Perry was also the top donor to outside groups overall in 2010.


Perry donated a lot of money to American Crossroads, the GOP group that Karl Rove, pictured above, helped launch (Peter Kramer/AP)

* One Perry helping another: Even though he is not related to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), Bob Perry was among the governor's most generous supporters over the years.


(Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

* Big bucks for Walker: When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) faced a recall effort in 2012, Perry gave Walker a whopping $500,000 to his campaign, a total which put him atop Walker's individual donor list.


(Reuters)
Sean Sullivan covers national politics for “The Fix.”
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Sean Sullivan | April 15, 2013