WASHINGTON – A wealthy Texan and prolific Republican donor is helping bankroll a television ad assailing Democrat John Kerry's (search) decorated military record in the Vietnam War.
Houston homebuilder Bob J. Perry (search) has donated at least $100,000 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a suburban Washington-based group airing a new ad in which Vietnam veterans who served on swiftboats accuse the Democratic presidential nominee of lying about his war record.
The group bought $500,000 of airtime for the 60-second ad to air in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Ohio and West Virginia.
The effort is reminiscent of a 2000 effort that helped drive George W. Bush's (search) then-rival John McCain from the presidential race.
Four years ago, Dallas brothers Sam and Charles Wyly financed $2.5 million in ads run under the auspices of "Republicans for Clean Air" criticizing McCain in the week before GOP presidential primaries in California, New York and Ohio. Those ads promoted then-Texas Gov. Bush's environmental record and criticized that of McCain, the Arizona senator. Bush won the primaries in all three states.
Perry's June donation accounted for most of the $158,750 that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, founded in April, reported raising as of June 30. John Krugh, a spokesman for Perry Homes, declined to comment on Perry's contribution.
"This is a personal action on his part," Krugh said Thursday. "We don't participate in media interviews."
Perry didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Last year, Perry Homes donated $10,000 to the Republican Governors Association. Perry has given at least $260,000 to Republican candidates and party committees on the federal level from the 1999-2000 election cycle to the current cycle, according to donation data compiled by the nonpartisan Political Money Line.
Perry's donations in the 2003-04 cycle include $10,000 to the pro-Republican Club for Growth political group and at least $19,250 to federal candidates and party committees, including $2,000 to Bush's re-election effort.
He is also a major giver in Texas. A 2002 study by the campaign finance watchdog group Texans for Public Justice ranked Perry as the No. 3 donor in the state that election cycle, with at least $1.5 million in contributions to Republican candidates and political action committees in Texas.
Perry's support for the veterans group comes as Republicans search for major donors to help counter the efforts of wealthy Democrats such as George Soros and Peter Lewis. Each has given more than $12 million to anti-Bush groups running ads and get-out-the-vote efforts.
The biggest known donor so far among pro-Bush groups is Jerry Perenchio, chief executive of the Spanish-language media company Univision, who gave $1 million in June to the Progress for America Voter Fund.