NPR logo Swift Boats Revisited Part 2 -- The Money

American Issues Project

Swift Boats Revisited Part 2 — The Money

The new ad that links Barack Obama to a one-time 1960s militant turns out to be funded by one man, someone who's spent plenty of time and money playing in the political sandbox.

Harold Simmons, CEO of the Contran Corp. of Dallas, put up all of the $2.8 million to buy airtime for the ad in Michigan and Ohio, and paid to produce the ad as well. Christian Pinkston, a spokesman for the American Issues Project, said Simmons' name was the only one listed on a disclosure report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Add this to a long list of political contributions made by Simmons and his company — a list topped by, you guessed it, $3 million to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004.

At first glance, Simmons' beneficiaries look like birds of a conservative feather: the three GOP national party committees, GOPAC, Republican Governors Association, the 501c4 group Progress for America from '04 and too many congressional Republicans to list here.

Then it gets more interesting. This year, Simmons maxed out with $2,300 contributions to four of the Republican presidential primary hopefuls: Rudolph Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Duncan Hunter and John McCain.

And more interesting still: two grand to a Democratic presidential candidate, Bill Richardson.

It's even possible — we'll know soon enough — that Simmons might be supporting the running mate of the candidate he's now attacking. Back in May 2007, he gave $2,300 to Chet Edwards (D-TX), now said to be on the shortlist of Obama vice-presidential possibilities.