What wealth can buy—or at least attempt to buy.... -Angela
Foes say he's doubled his donations to GOP primaries
08:08 PM CST on Monday, February 13, 2006
By TERRENCE STUTZ / The Dallas Morning News
AUSTIN ˆ Millionaire businessman James Leininger, a
strong proponent of tax-paid private school vouchers,
has poured nearly $1.4 million into Republican primary
races this year ˆ most of it to oust GOP lawmakers who
have opposed vouchers.
Reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission
indicate that Dr. Leininger and his wife, who live in
San Antonio, have contributed or pledged unusually
large sums to political action committees and
Republican candidates as the March 7 primary election
The Texas Freedom Network, a nonprofit group that has
battled pro-voucher forces in the past, said the
campaign finance reports indicate the Leiningers have
spent twice as much as they did in advance of the
Republican primaries two years ago and four years ago.
"James Leininger is so obsessed with forcing taxpayers
to subsidize tuition vouchers at private schools that
he has tried for years to buy a Legislature that would
do it," network president Kathy Miller said Monday.
"Now he's moving to close the sale."
Dr. Leininger, one of the biggest Republican donors in
Texas, was unavailable for comment. But he had
indicated previously that he would focus more on open
seats in the Legislature this year.
Most of the $800,000 he gave to the Texas Republican
Legislative Campaign Committee was given to the
campaigns of Republicans who are challenging five
incumbents in the GOP primary.
All five of those House members opposed legislation to
create a pilot voucher program in Texas last year. The
measure would have allowed students in some urban
school districts to transfer to private schools at
"For 15 years I have tried to support people who are
in favor of school choice," Dr. Leininger said
recently. "I guess that means opposing people who are
against school choice."
In contrast to the money spent against Republicans he
is at odds with, the San Antonio businessman has
contributed $100,000 to the Future of Texas Alliance
PAC, which has given a total of $10,000 to seven
pro-voucher House Republicans this year, according to
the freedom network. Six of those have primary
Ms. Miller of the freedom network said the GOP House
majority that Dr. Leininger helped elect four years
ago has failed to pass school voucher legislation.
"Now, this one-man special interest is digging even
deeper into his pockets to get the kind of Republicans
who will do what he wants next time," she said.
In the 2005-06 election cycle, Dr. Leininger has
contributed just over $1 million to PACs and $76,025
to legislative candidates. He also has given $301,600
to statewide candidates.