Flor Cordero / Reuters, file
Billionaire Harold Simmons photographed in 1997.
By Bill Dedman, msnbc.com, and Michael Isikoff, NBC News
with reporting by NBC's Azriel Relph and Lisa Riordan Seville
A Super PAC supporting Texas Gov. Rick Perry received a million dollars from a leveraged-buyout innovator who got Perry's help to locate a radioactive waste disposal facility in the state.
The PAC, called Make Us Great Again, reported receipts of $5.5 million, incuding $1 million from Contran Corp. of Dallas. The billionaire owner of Contran, Harold Simmons, has given to Republican PACs and campaigns since the 1980s, including those of Sen. John McCain, Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney in 2008, and $4 million to the anti-Kerry groups Swift Vets and POWs for Truth in 2004.
Now he's allowed to give far more, in the era after the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, allowing corporate donations to campaigns.
The Dallas billionaire had already given more than $1 million to Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns in recent years, under the permissive campaign finance laws in Texas, according to The Los Angeles Times. The newspaper reported that Simmons won permission to build a radioactive waste disposal facility in Texas after Perry signed a law allowing private companies, such as Simmons’ Waste Control Specialists, to operate such sites. Despite objections of some Texas environmental officials, a Perry-appointed state commission approved the construction of the facility and opened it up to receive nuclear waste from other states.
Another donor to the PAC is Robert McNair, owner of the Houston Texans, who gave $100,000.
The Perry PAC drew hardly any support outside of Texas. Perry dropped out of the race on Jan. 19 after finishing last in the New Hampshire primary.
Tuesday is the day for the so-called Super PACS to file an annual report of donors. NBC News and msnbc.com will be scouring the filings, and posting details. We'll have updates on msnbc.com, and could always use your help identifying the economic and political interests behind the names.
The Political Action Committees must disclose by midnight Tuesday who gave them money, and how much they spent to support or oppose candidates in the presidential race, including the Republican candidates and President Barack Obama.
The reports may trickle in, and it wouldn't surprise us if some campaigns file late tonight as attention is focused on voting results in the Florida Republican primary.
Super PACS are known to the Federal Election Commission as independent committees, because they are forbidden to coordinate their activities with campaigns. Outside the limits of campaign finance laws, Super PACs may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals. They can use that money to advocate for or against political candidates.
Read more about the reports filed Tuesday: