New super PAC raises nearly $10 million to register new Republican voters in Texas

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A new super PAC focused on registering new Republican voters in Texas has raised nearly $10 million from some of the state’s biggest GOP donors, according to its first report to the Federal Election Commission. 

Filed early Wednesday morning, the disclosure shows that the political action committee, Engage Texas, took in $9.6 million between when it registered with the FEC in mid-April and when the reporting period ended June 30. It spent $336,000 and has $9.3 million in the bank. 

“This significant investment in resources will help us reach Texans in every corner of the state to educate them about Texas’ successful, conservative principles and engage them in the political process,” Engage Texas Chairman Mano de Ayala said in a statement. 

Engage Texas launched in mid-June with the promise of signing up and turning out hundreds of thousands of new GOP voters to help keep the state red in 2020. The super PAC is led by Chris Young, a former top staffer at the Republican National Committee. 

The super PAC has already built a staff of at least 18 people, and it has set up shop in three of the state’s biggest cities while sending organizers to a dozen politically important counties. 

The group’s initial donor list features a who’s who from the Texas GOP donor community. There are half a dozen individuals and entities that gave $1 million each: 

El Paso oilman Paul Foster
Retired Doss couple Michael and Mary Porter ($500,000 each)
Houston oil tycoon Joseph C. Walter III
Houston developer Richard Weekley, who sits on the Engage Texas board
Hillwood Development Co., the Dallas-based real estate company led by Ross Perot Jr.
Energy Transfer, the Dallas-based pipeline company led by CEO Kelcy Warren

Engage Texas also received a combined $1 million from two Houston companies, Trinity Equity Partners I and Trinity Equity Partners II, which are tied to the private equity firm Quantum Energy Partners. The latter is run by another familiar name in GOP donor circles, Wil VanLoh. 

It appears Engage Texas has wasted little time getting to work, reporting 17 people on payroll through June in addition to Young. One of them is Kristy Wilkinson, who was deputy campaign manager for Gov. Greg Abbott’s reelection bid last year and previously the Republican National Committee’s Texas state director. 

The group says it has already opened offices in Austin, Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It also has dispatched organizers to begin work in Bell, Blanco, Collin, Dallas, Denton, Fort Bend, Harris, Hays, Lampasas, Tarrant, Travis and Williamson counties. 

Disclosure: Ross Perot Jr. and Paul Foster have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here. 

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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