The Brief: Top Texas News for April 15, 2013

The Big Conversation

Bob Perry, a behind-the-scenes titan in the Texas political world, has died at the age of 80. 

The Tribune's Ross Ramsey reported the news late Sunday. Former state Rep. Neal T. "Buddy" Jones, a family friend, and Anthony Holm, a spokesman, confirmed Perry's death, saying he passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Nassau Bay on Saturday night.

"Bob Perry was a friend to many, many people all over the United States, and he was a true patriot," Jones said. "He will be sorely missed. Those of us who knew him were blessed by his friendship."

Though he built his fortune in homebuilding, Perry was best known for his generous political donations, which changed the Texas political landscape and at times proved influential nationally. From 2000 to 2010, Perry donated $28 million to Texas groups and candidates, including Govs. George W. Bush and Rick Perry (no relation). During that time, Perry spent even more, $38 million, outside of Texas, including about $4 million on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign, which opposed John Kerry's presidential bid in 2004. 

 

More recently, he contributed heavily to Mitt Romney and Republican Super PACs like American Crossroads and Restore Our Future.

Though Perry mostly donated to Republican candidates and conservative causes, he occasionally supported Democrats, especially minorities, as Texas Monthly noted in a 2007 profile. The magazine at the time called him "the most powerful political donor in the nation." 

As Holm, his spokesman, told the Tribune in 2010: "He believes in being active, in both voting and aiding where one can, but also in charitable concerns and the electoral process. He loves the republic and believes it's a duty."

On Sunday, Holm called Perry "one of the finest human beings I've ever met."

Culled

•    Exclusive: As his presidential library debuts, George W. Bush prepares to return to public stage on his own terms (The Dallas Morning News): "More than four years after George W. Bush left the White House — settling in Texas with a desire to leave politics behind — the former president remains reluctant to give up the liberation of 'not feeling like I’ve got to be in the limelight.' But as the George W. Bush Presidential Center prepares to open, Bush and his confidants don’t hesitate to defend a presidency that’s taken its share of lumps over the years. … Taking measure of a driving philosophy behind his presidency, Bush said in an exclusive interview with The Dallas Morning News that discussion of his legacy should start with a fresh look at his record. 'The best way for people to understand what I meant by ‘compassionate conservative’ is to look at the programs we implemented and look at the results,' he said."

•    Rand Paul aide sought S.C. invite that went to Ted Cruz (Politico): "Sen. Rand Paul’s chief of staff called South Carolina’s Republican chairman earlier this month to express disappointment that the state party invited freshman sensation Sen. Ted Cruz to speak at its marquee fundraising dinner rather than the Kentuckian. Doug Stafford, Paul’s top aide, told Chad Connelly, the South Carolina GOP chief, that Paul’s team had hoped to attend high-profile state party dinners in each of the traditional early states this spring, three sources familiar with the call told POLITICO."

•    Ex-JP expected to be charged in Kaufman County killings (The Dallas Morning News): "The day after the bodies of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife were found, an anonymous email went to county officials threatening another attack if the writer’s demands were not met. Law enforcement authorities have since traced the threat to the personal computer of Eric Williams, a former justice of the peace who is now the prime suspect in the slayings. He is expected to be charged with capital murder as early as Tuesday, law enforcement authorities said Sunday."

•    Texas GOP Warns of Invasion of 'Slimy Dark Arts' (The Wall Street Journal): "The Texas Republican Party has a new enemy, and its name is Battleground Texas. In a heated fundraising letter sent this week to donors statewide, the Texas GOP calls the new Democratic voter-mobilization effort 'a clear and present threat to you and your family.'"

Quote of the Day: "Much of my presidency was defined by things that you didn’t necessarily want to have happen." — Former President George W. Bush in an extensive interview with The Dallas Morning News

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