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Nearly Half Of Perry's Campaign Cash From Big Donors

FORT WORTH (AP) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry raised nearly $103 million in campaign contributions from his first inauguration as governor in 2001 through 2010, according to a published report.

Almost half of that money has been given by 204 "mega-donors" of $100,000 or more, according to Texans for Public Justice, a state campaign finance watchdog.

Perry's biggest contributors include Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who bankrolled the negative "Swift Boat" campaign against 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in Sunday's edition.

Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who is not related to the governor, has given more than $2.5 million to Perry's campaigns since 2000. The only bigger source of campaign funds for Rick Perry has been the Republican Governors Association, which has given $4 million to the Texas Republican's gubernatorial campaigns.

Texas allows unlimited individual contributions in state races. Democratic candidates have had Houston trial lawyer and outspoken Perry critic Steve Mostyn as a big contributor.

Rick Perry is seen by many as a potential candidate for the GOP presidential nomination but has not formally entered the race. However, he has been trying to expand his fundraising net nationwide while taking stock of how much of his state financial base he can count on.

Bob Perry donated almost $4.5 million to the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" campaign that challenged 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's account of his Vietnam War record. Michael Beckel, spokesman for the nonprofit monitor of federal campaign spending, Center for Responsive Politics, said Perry "is One of the most high-profile conservative donors out there."

Perry also is a major donor to charitable causes such as orphanages throughout Mexico and Central America. He also has backed the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus and helped apply pressure to block anti-illegal immigrant legislation in this year's special session of the Texas Legislature.

Speculation on whether Bob Perry will be a major backer of a Rick Perry presidential campaign is premature, said Anthony Holm, the homebuilder's spokesman. "Gov. Perry hasn't announced, and we don't know if he will announce," he told the Star-Telegram.

Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons is Rick Perry's third-biggest giver with more than $1.1 million during Perry's administration. Simmons is developing a disposal site in West Texas for low-level radioactive waste that has drawn criticism from the environmental lobby.

Simmons subsidiary Waste Control Specialists, which is developing the disposal site, has noted that extensive testing shows the facility will be safe. Environmental lobbyists say it's the shipping of nuclear waste from out of state on Texas highways that concerns them.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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