The Politico recently profiled Bob Perry, the recently deceased Texas billionaire homebuilder who gave nearly 70 million of dollars to Republican candidates in the last decade. Politico reported that his family will not likely spend their estate on politics.
While most of the obituaries of Perry in the MSM attacked him as an evil white Republican who funded Swift Boat Veterans, the Politico noted that he was a big booster of Amnesty and Affirmative Action,
“While Republicans say their party is hardly in dire financial straits, there are already places where Perry’s absence is felt: for example, in the debate over immigration reform, a cause Perry long believed in and which friends say he intended to support this year.”
Furthermore, he “supported numerous programs aimed at promoting diversity in higher education.” [The ultimate donor leaves a void, by Alexander Burns, July 23, 2013]
This is an understatement. According to a 2007 profile of Perry, he gave “more than $1 million to fund scholarships for the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston.“ The center’s director, Tatcho Mindiola, was quoted:
I discovered that he is a strong supporter of affirmative action, and that would surprise a lot of people in the Republican party. He knows that discrimination is real, and he thinks there should be special outreach to get Hispanics involved in education. He is not a rabid right-winger. Simply not.
[Bob Perry Needs a Hug, S.C. Gwynne, Texas Monthly April 2007
We can do more than just speculate how Perry’s money affected GOP candidates on immigration: There is a clear case study. In 2007, the Texas Observer reported,
In October 2006, a Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute task force that included several influential Republican state representatives released a report full of bold recommendations. It called for new laws denying birthright citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants, taxing the money many immigrants send back to their home countries, and penalizing employers who hire undocumented workers. “The recommendations provide a clear signal that illegal immigration will be high up on conservatives’ legislative agenda in the coming legislative session,” reported Quorum Report, an Austin-based political Web site, at the time. But just as the stage was set, the curtain closed.
An unusual coalition of powerful Republican business interests—including the Texas Association of Business—realized that the anti-immigrant hysteria threatened to purge Texas of the workers that pluck chickens, build houses, and make some people very rich…two of the state’s biggest employers and campaign contributors depend on immigrant workers. Bob Perry and Bo Pilgrim gave almost $13 million to state candidates and political action committees in the last two election cycles, with Perry contributing the lion’s share. Most of that money went to Republicans. Pilgrim needs immigrants for his Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. chicken factories. Perry depends on immigrants to build houses for Perry Homes.
As you can see, Perry wasn’t supporting amnesty out of the goodness of his heart, but as a representative member of the Slave Power—he needed immigrants to build homes cheaply.
“[Perry] didn’t want this session to be just an immigrant bashing session,” says Houston Democratic Rep. Rick Noriega. The famously media-shy Perry called Noriega to express his concerns about the hardship that could be inflicted on his workers. “He has a perspective other than the economic,” Noriega says. [Northward Ho! How the Immigration Debate Left Texas, Megan Headley, March 23, 2007]
The story ends with the majority of Republican legislators retreating from their support of the immigration control measures.
By all accounts Perry was a very gracious and generous man. But his advocacy for Amnesty will not be missed. No doubt other billionaire GOP donors will fill his void.