February 3, 2012
By Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Texas billionaire Harold Simmons has vowed to give away at least half of his fortune before he dies. That's good news for the hospitals, youth centers and ballet companies that benefit from his largesse - not to mention the Republican Party.
The Dallas tycoon, 80, has been among the most aggressive donors to take advantage of new rules that place few limits on how much money wealthy individuals and corporations can contribute to political groups. . .
Simmons and his wife Annette gave $5.8 million over the past year to Republican candidates and causes. His holding company, Contran Corp., gave an additional $3 million. . .
Contran's political-action committee has given $5,000 donations, the legal maximum, to Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty as well.
That approach is common in Texas, where donors commonly spread money around in order to ensure access.
"Many of the big donors in Texas bet campaigns like old ladies bet bingo. They have several cards lined up in front of them and they're playing them all at once," said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
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