A pair of billionaire brothers who made their money through fracking have contributed $15 million to the Super PAC set up to support Ted Cruz’ presidential campaign. The brothers are huge supporters of the Christian right, including David Lane and the American Family Association.
Two low-profile Texas brothers have donated $15 million to support Sen. Ted Cruz, a record-setting contribution that amounts to the largest known donation so far in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Farris and Dan Wilks, billionaires who made their fortunes in the West Texas fracking boom, have given $15 million of the $38 million that the pro-Cruz super PAC, Keep the Promise, will disclose in election filings next week, according to sources outside the super PAC with knowledge of the giving.
The siblings earned their riches with the sale of their company Frac Tech for $3.5 billion in 2011, and since then have shuffled large contributions to the leading social conservative nonprofit groups that aren’t required to reveal their donors. But they will no longer be able to avoid detection after giving a historically large and early donation that now make the brothers two of America’s most prominent political donors.
“Our country was founded on the idea that our rights come from the Creator, not the government. I’m afraid we’re losing that,” Farris Wilks, a 63-year-old pastor in the small town of Cisco, said in a statement to CNN. “Unless we elect a principled conservative leader ready to stand up for our values, we’ll look back on what once was the land of opportunity and pass on a less prosperous nation to our children and grandchildren. That’s why we need Ted Cruz.”
And that Super PAC is very oddly structured:
Keep the Promise is technically four separate committees that give three families more control over their own super PAC. Most of the attention has focused on Robert Mercer, a New York hedge fund magnate who gave the second-most money to conservative groups in 2014 than any other Republican donor. Mercer has given $11 million of the $38 million raised, according to a leader of the super PACs. Another $10 million comes from Toby Neugebauer, a Houston investor and a personal friend of Cruz’s.
This is why the campaign contribution limits in federal law are almost entirely irrelevant. They keep an individual from giving more than a relatively small amount of money to a candidate or a political party but they allow the super rich to donate unlimited amounts of money to these third party groups and Super PACs, which are not allowed to coordinate with the campaigns or the parties (wink, wink) but everyone knows they do. After Citizens United, this is the primary means of allowing the rich to control our political campaigns.