Democratic mega donor George Soros and an Austin-area couple each gave $1 million to Beto O’Rourke’s campaign to unseat Gov. Greg Abbott.
While Texans gave $14.5 million to the Democrat’s campaign, nearly half of O’Rourke’s record-breaking $27.6 million fundraising haul came from out-of-state donors.
The details come from an O’Rourke campaign finance report so huge it took several days to upload to the Texas Ethics Commission website.
O’Rourke is one of the few Democrats this election cycle to benefit from the state’s wide-open campaign finance rules that put no limit on contributions. He received several six- and seven-figure checks that are usually collected only by the state’s top Republican leaders, such as Abbott.
In addition to Soros, O’Rourke received $1 million each from Tench and Simone Coxe, a high-powered Silicon Valley couple who moved to Austin last year. He’s a former GOP donor and venture capitalist, while she co-founded public relations firm Blanc & Otus. Late last year, the Coxes put $100,000 into O’Rourke’s nascent gubernatorial campaign.
Still, the report shows the bulk of O’Rourke’s donations are small. He received seven donations of $100,000 or more. Meanwhile, 62 of Abbott’s top donors each gave six-figure sums that together accounted for more than half of the Republican’s $25 million haul.
O’Rourke, as a federal candidate running for Congress and the White House, had to play by different campaign-finance rules. Individuals cannot donate more than $2,900 per election to a federal candidate. In Texas, there is no such limit.
Other big checks to O’Rourke’s campaign came from the American Federation of Teachers PAC and $100,000 from Nancy Sanders of Dallas.
Abbott’s top contributor was Midland oilman S. Javaid Anwar, a prolific GOP donor who has given the governor’s campaign nearly $870,000 since February. Twice, Abbott has appointed Anwar to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Several others contributed $500,000 apiece, including Dallas telecom billionaire Kenny Troutt, California real estate billionaire Edward Roski Jr., Houston road contractor James “Doug” Pitcock Jr. and Houston Rockets owner and restaurateur Tilman Fertitta.
Abbott’s campaign quickly took aim at the check from Soros, a billionaire philanthropist who’s become a boogeyman to staunch conservatives. Soros’ Open Society Foundations has given away $18 billion on six continents to improve criminal justice, education and public health and promote independent news media.
“It’s no surprise Beto O’Rourke received a $1 million campaign contribution from billionaire George Soros, liberal Democrats’ favorite check writer, given they both support defunding our police, open borders and radical energy policies,” Abbott campaign spokesman Mark Miner said in a written statement.
Abbott’s campaign immediately launched an 18-second digital ad, replete with ominous music. It refers to “liberal billionaire George Soros” and ends with a video clip of actor Mike Myers, playing Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movie series, saying, “One million dollars!”
Miner said he didn’t know the amount of the ad buy.
O’Rourke’s campaign responded that the top occupation of his donors was teachers.
Between Feb. 20 and June 30, O’Rourke’s 511,000 contributors gave an average of $54.
In the same period, the average contribution of Abbott’s nearly 113,000 donors was $220.
“Abbott is running a pay-to-play scheme in which nearly two-thirds of the individuals who contributed more than $250,000 to his campaign were his own political appointees,” O’Rourke spokesman Chris Evans said in a statement.
Of Abbott’s $25 million haul, $21.3 million, or nearly 86%, came from within Texas. Of O’Rourke’s $27.6 million, 52.5% was from in-state residents or entities.