September 13, 2004
Two of these things are not like the others

The Chron reports on the five people with a Houston connection who made Capitol Inside's list of top political donors in Texas. I'm not sure what Capitol Inside's algorithm was, but I really don't see why they bothered with Linda Pritzker:

Linda Pritzker, the reclusive 50-year-old heiress to part of the Hyatt Hotel fortune, shows up on some campaign finance watchdog lists as the most generous of all political donors in Texas.

And while it's true that Pritzker has shelled out more than $5 million to organizations working to keep President Bush from being re-elected Nov. 2, she is not, as frequently listed, a "Houston investor" or even a Texan.

Actually, Pritzker -- the second of five children of billionaire Robert Pritzker of Chicago, one of the hotel chain's founders -- lives in a small town in western Montana, where she practices and teaches Tibetan Buddhism.

Pritzker also identifies herself as a psychotherapist in a recent article she wrote for Northwest Dharma News, a bimonthly Buddhist newsletter published in Seattle. Phone messages left for her in Montana last week were not returned. A woman who answered the phone said Pritzker had no comment on her political donations or any ties to Houston.

Pritzker's connection to Houston appears limited to Sustainable World Corp., which was incorporated in Texas on Dec. 10. The corporation's registered agent is Lewis Linn, a certified public accountant in Houston, who, according to Forbes Global magazine, helped set up various trusts for the Pritzker family after its holdings were restructured in 2001.

Linn said that Pritzker "is a client of mine, and I'm a Houstonian, but she is not a Houstonian."

Pritzker, alone and through Sustainable World, has contributed $5 million to the Joint Victory Campaign 2004, which in turn has donated most of its money to Media Fund and America Coming Together, both of which are devoted to defeating President Bush.

Her donations do not include any Texas or Harris County races. In fact, Harris County Democratic Party Chairman Gerry Birnberg said, "I've never heard of the lady. She has no connection with the Harris County Democratic Party."

I haven't shelled out the $250 for a year's subscription to CI, so I don't know if any other names on their list are as not-really-Texan as this one is.

Of the four more relevant names on the list, two are Democrats and two are Republicans. The difference is that the two Republicans, Bob McNair and Bob Perry, gave $2.2 million of their $2.8 million total to state candidates and PACs. One of the Democrats, John Eddie Williams, had a similar profile - $896,000 of his $977,000 stayed in Texas - but the other, Maconda Brown O'Connor, sent most of her money elsewhere - only $15,000 of her $974,000 went to state candidates. I'm not sure if more big Democratic donors giving a bigger percentage of their money to state candidates will be a leading indicator of the party's resurgence or a trailing indicator, but I'd bet a fairly substantial sum that there will be a pretty tight correlation between the two.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 13, 2004 to Show Business for Ugly People | TrackBack