Rick Perry has raised $102 million as Texas governor over the last 10 years, and $37 million of that comes from just 150 individuals and couples—nearly half of whom have enjoyed business contracts, appointments, or tax breaks under Perry. A Los Angeles Times analysis found dozens of examples, from the billionaire who has donated $1.12 million and got permission to build a low-level radioactive waste disposal site despite safety concerns, to the engineering firm owner who donated more than $320,000 and whose firm received several contracts as he himself won a spot on the University of Texas board of regents.
Such well-funded campaigns are common in Texas, which allows unlimited political donations, but one expert says Perry's donors have benefited more than those of predecessor George W. Bush. "It's not unprecedented, but we haven't seen it in a while," he says. Meanwhile, Perry's aides dispute the idea that major donors—who are likely to be the core fundraisers for his presidential bid—get any special treatment. "They get the same thing that all Texans get," says one.