Robert J. Perry: The Original \”Swiftboating\” Money
originally posted at The Patriot Project
When I got home from holiday and heard about \”Path to 9/11\”, I started thinking about this recent piece I wrote for The Patriot Project, and how Republicans are expanding on their original swiftboating theme. The ABC TV attempt to smear Democrats on national security by bringing in 9/11 isn't exactly what began with Bush in 2000, but it's certainly a cousin. So I thought I'd offer today how it all got started, or better still, who actually gave swiftboating its start. After all, the swiftboating smear artists didn't have the money to start their campaign on their own..
Robert J. Perry is a big wheeling Texas
home builder who likes his privacy. He also is a kingmaker in Republican
Party politics in the Lone Star state. That he was the guy who gave the Swift
Boat Veterans for Truth their seed money, which sent them on their fundraising
way, is now history, presidential history, that is. The success of
that campaign against John
Kerry has spawned many other front groups claiming no ties to the Republican
Party, which is stretching reality, some would say. Many
people, myself included (long before I went to blogging), confronted
the swiftboating of John Kerry. But they just keep on coming, with money
given silently, behind the scenes and no
one can stop them. In fact, during the 2004 elections the smears from the
group were so blatantly Republican it became known as \”Swift Boat Veterans
for Bush\”. Perry, now in his seventies, remained behind the scenes for
a long time, but since the 2004 election, he isn't out of reach anymore.
He's number eight
on the fundraising list.
Perry gave at least 124 times from 1999 – 2006, which is his right.
As for 2006, he's on the
top 10 fundraising list.
Perry's also big friends with Karl Rove.
By the mid-nineties, Rove had got himself into a highly unusual position
for a political consultant-functioning more in the manner of an old-fashioned
political boss than of a for-hire member of the service sector. Rather than
his pitching candidates for their business, candidates pitched him for his
commitment. The key to his power was that he had a particularly solid connection
to the money side of politics. He carefully cultivated Texas's biggest Republican
donors, people like Peter O'Donnell and Louis Beecher, in Dallas, and Bob
Perry and Kenneth Lay (before the fall of Enron), in Houston; they
saw him as someone whose clients usually won, and made their decisions about
whether or not to invest in a candidate partly on the basis of Rove's decision
whether or not to work for the campaign. The Rove operation, at its peak,
was like an old-fashioned Hollywood studio, with Rove. as the mogul. Rove
and his aides, the people behind the camera, were smart, geeky, ruthless,
and workaholic; the candidate-clients were handsome, forthright, vigorous,
friendly, and easy, with firm jaws and great hair. After they made it through
the auditioning process, they'd be sent around the studio lot for buffing
and polishing-a stop in Message, a stop in Fund-Raising-before they were given
their public debut. …
Let's run down some of Perry's pay outs: in 2006 Perry contributed 25, for
a total of $72,600; in 2004 Perry contributed 29 times for a total of
$4,499,000; in 2002 he contributed 34 times for $44,500; and in 2000
he gave 37 times for a total of $196,000.
Here are Perry's more notable contributions for the 2004 election:
77234 $50,000 10/22/2004 SWIFT BOAT VETS AND POW'S
77234 $1,000,000 10/18/2004 SWIFT BOAT VETS AND POW'S
77234 $500,000 10/16/2004 SWIFT BOAT VETS AND POW'S
77234 $500,000 10/13/2004 SWIFT BOAT VETS AND POW'S
77234 $450,000 10/12/2004 SWIFT BOAT VETS AND POW'S
77234 $500,000 10/12/2004 SWIFT BOAT VETS AND POW'S
77234 $750,000 10/06/2004 SWIFT BOAT VETS AND POW'S
77058 $25,000 09/28/2004 NATIONAL REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL COMMITTEE – Republican
77234 $250,000 09/23/2004 SWIFT BOAT VETS AND POW'S
77234 $250,000 09/13/2004 SWIFT BOAT VETS AND POW'S
77234 $100,000 07/16/2004 SWIFT BOAT VETS AND POW'S
77234 $100,000 06/30/2004 SWIFT BOAT VETS AND POW'S
Oh, but Swift Boat Vets for Truth had nothing to do with the Republican Party
or President Bush, right?
You have to ask why a man like Bob Perry found denigrating a decorated veteran
like John Kerry such a valuable investment. Sure, Perry gave lots to George
W. Bush before he ran for president, but why put millions on the line to smear
a United States veteran? It couldn't be because he was the Democratic nominee
for president, could it?
Perry evidently doesn't care how his money is used, as long as the job gets
done. Someone calls up and asks for cash and he gives it to them if the cause
sounds good. Since Perry didn't like John Kerry he didn't care how he was taken
down. Ends justifies the means, I guess. That's his right, but it's important
to point out that he gave the bulk of his hundreds of thousands of dollars —
that added up to several million — to a particular front group making
up lies about the Republican Party's Democratic political opponent in a presidential
like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth aren't supposed to endorse a candidate.
It's against the law. In 2004, that fine legal line got finer.
In fact, you might say that Robert J. Perry is the godfather to \”swiftboating\”, which is now a political black art term used to describe a smear campaign against a candidate, often a veteran, which rarely uses facts to get the job done. Swiftboating was coined during the 2004 presidential election.
Robert J. Perry, the main financier behind the effort to discredit Senator
John F. Kerry's military record, is the most prolific political donor in Texas.
A homebuilder who lives lakeside in this Houston suburb, Perry has helped
bankroll the widespread success of Republican candidates here, has long-standing
ties to many close associates of President Bush, and has contributed to Bush's
last four campaigns. According to interviews and campaign documents, he has
given a total of more than $5 million to scores of political candidates.
''And the vast majority of those people have never laid eyes on him,\”
said Court Koenning, executive director of the Republican Party in Harris
County, which includes the Houston metropolitan area.
Despite the enormous influence of his money, Perry, 71, is reticent and guarded,
and remains something of a mystery in Texas. But his largess has now crept
onto the national stage.
A group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth launched television ads last
week accusing Kerry, a Massachusetts senator and the Democratic presidential
nominee, of lying about his military record. A $100,000 check that Perry wrote
to the group this year represented about two-thirds of the money in its accounts
as of June 30, according to financial documents.
The Bush campaign says it has no ties to the group.
The advertisements, running in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Ohio,
and West Virginia, are part of a multimedia campaign questioning Kerry's fitness
as a leader and commander in chief. A book written by one of the group's leaders,
Houston lawyer John E. O'Neill, is scheduled to be released today.
''Bob Perry is a very generous guy with his political donations,\” Koenning
said. ''His primary interest is good government. . . . Everybody agrees that
John Kerry's service to this country is admirable. But if he lied about it,
that speaks to his character.\” …
Bush supporter funds attacks on Kerry's war record
Homebuilder is longtime force in Texas GOP
Again, we're all supposed to believe that a \”longtime force in Texas GOP\”
had no ties to the Bush campaign.
They don't call it a front group for nothing. It's how people disassociate
him/her self from the group they hope will do some dirty deed, but to which
they can't afford to be tied. You know, community reputation and all, not to
mention the legal bottom line.
Mind you, swiftboating is all predicated on an \”if\”. If
whomever is being targeted did something wrong, or if the person doing the swiftboating
is threatened with defeat. This is the moment when the front group swoops in
and slings all kinds of accusations around without proof, tarnishing a person's
reputation without the Republican Party getting tagged with doing the dirty
The moment Mr. Perry decided to personally provide the seed money for John
O'Neill's Swift Boat Veterans for Truth his cover was blown.
Craig McDonald with Texans for Public Justice, a group that tracks campaign
finance, said the home builder had been in Leininger's range of donations
until he opened up the checkbook for the 2002 election cycle. In President
Bush's 1994 and 1998 campaigns for governor, Perry gave $46,000.
McDonald said Perry's donations reflect typical Texas conservatism favoring
low taxation and less regulation or legal liability for his business.
\”He's the primary bankroller of all things Republican,\” McDonald
said. \”But he's a mystery man who doesn't jump personally into politics.
He's the opposite of (Enron's) Ken Lay, who seemed ubiquitous.\” Before
Enron collapsed, \”Kenny Boy,\” as President Bush nicknamed him, was
a top Bush money-raiser and a Fortune 500 CEO who made the company jet and
millions of dollars of donations available to elected officials from both
for Public Justice: AAS: Texas donor supported swift boat ads
Unassuming home builder getting more notoriety for latest donation than for
record amounts in 2002
Robert J. Perry is into remaking the world as he sees it. It's gotten him
in trouble recently when a \”lemon-home case\” went to court. But he's
not really in trouble. There's a reason Perry gives all that money to politicians,
especially Republican politicians in Texas.
This appeal by Perry Homes makes one other fascinating claim that consumers
typically invoke: arbitrator bias. As evidence, Perry Homes cites the fact
that arbitrator Robert Prather previously had represented some homeowners
in construction litigation. By contrast, homeowner plaintiffs in other cases
repeatedly have claimed that an arbitrator had close ties to the homebuilding
industry or favored an industry that brings arbitrators so much business.
The bias claim in this case is extraordinary, coming as it does from Texas’
largest individual campaign contributor. Apparently, someone who has built
so much bias into the political system knows it when he sees it.
The $4.6 million that Bob Perry gave to Texas candidates and PACs in the
2004 election cycle alone makes him the state’s leading kingmaker. Perry
is one of the top underwriters of Texans For Lawsuit Reform (TLR). This pro-arbitration
business group runs Texas’ largest PAC. It spent $31 million in 2004
to make it harder for consumers to hold businesses accountable in court. Perry
Homes’ top in-house lawyer, John Krugh, helped draft 2003 legislation
to create the nine-member Texas Residential Construction Commission, a state
agency dominated by building-industry representativesÃ¢â‚¬”including Commissioner
John Krugh. This special-interest coup prompted Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston),
to tell the Austin American-Statesman, “In Texas you can buy your own
state agency, then regulate yourself.”
Many state judges also are beneficiaries of Bob Perry’s political largesse.
Bob Perry and his wife personally have given more than $100,000 to Texas judicial
candidates since 2000. Perry has not directly contributed to the appeals judges
who now are mulling Cull v. Perry Homes. Nonetheless, their chief justice,
John Cayce, got $13,430 from Perry-backed TLR in 2002 for his failed Texas
Supreme Court run. In fact, three of the Texas Supreme Court’s sitting
justices have taken a total of $25,000 directly from Bob Perry. It’s
the court of last resort for Cull. v. Perry Homes. …
Nails Bob Perry
By ANDREW WHEAT, Texas Observer, May 13, 2005
Nice little Lone Star set up Robert Perry has, isn't it? No doubt helping Republicans
put Bush in the White House instead of Kerry also did the big time Texas business
tycoon some good, too.
It was a nice little set up the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth had with their
money godfather, Robert J. Perry. He started them up, then they took off and
now are replicating like rabbits.
It's election season and there are some new front groups in action. Of course,
we've still got Perry's old pal John O'Neill going after Murtha.
Not too long ago I traced one member of the original Swift Boat Veterans for
Truth to Rep.
Duncan Hunter's office. His name is Tony
Snesko. A new group has shown up in Connecticut calling themselves the \”Swift
Boat Veterans for Freedom\”, targeting Ned Lamont, while hiding
behind ads in the Hartford Courant that abuse the 527 system. An unpaid
adviser of the group is Dan
Senor, remember him? Well if you don't, he was a Bush-Cheney man and the
to the U.S. Presidential Envoy in Iraq. This \”Ask
the White House\” page is priceless. Paul Galanti, another original
Swift Boat Veteran for Truth, has started up a \”Vets
for Allen\” group to smear his opponent, Democratic veteran Jim
As for Robert J. Perry, I wonder what else he'll be up to in the upcoming elections.
He's getting up there in seniority, but his money will likely live on. It will
be on the hush-hush, of course. Because men like Robert J. Perry, the original
\”swiftboating\” money man, likes his dirty work done in the dark.