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By Matea Gold and Melanie Mason, Washington Bureau, latimes.com / August 16, 2011.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry campaigns in Iowa for the Republican presidential nomination. A Times analysis finds his mega-donors have fared well during his tenure in Texas; his aides deny the donors got special perks. (Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images / August 15, 2011).
Reporting from Washington— Texas Gov. Rick Perry has powered his political career on the largesse of donors like Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons, who gave the governor $1.12 million in recent years.
And donors like Simmons have found the rewards to be mutual, reaping benefits from Texas during Perry's tenure.
Perry has received a total of $37 million over the last decade from just 150 individuals and couples, who are likely to form the backbone of his new effort to win the Republican presidential nomination. The tally represented more than a third of the $102 million he had raised as governor through December, according to data compiled by the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice.
Nearly half of those mega-donors received hefty business contracts, tax breaks or appointments under Perry, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis.
Perry, campaigning Monday at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, declined to comment when asked how he separated the interests of his donors from the needs of his state. His aides vigorously dispute that his contributors received any perks.
"They get the same thing that all Texans get," said spokesman Mark Miner.
Along with Simmons — who won permission to build a low-level radioactive waste disposal site in Texas, a project that promises to generate hundreds of millions of dollars — The Times found dozens of examples in which major donors to Perry have benefited during his tenure.
Auto magnate B.J. "Red" McCombs, who contributed nearly $400,000 to the governor, is the primary financial backer for a Formula One racetrack to be built near Austin. The state has pledged $25 million a year in subsidies to support the project.
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