Texas Sands PAC is funded by Dr. Miriam Adelson, widow of Las Vegas Sands Corp. founder Sheldon Adelson and a prominent supporter of Donald Trump. Dr. Adelson is one of the wealthiest people in the world and the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp.
Most runoff candidates who received cash from Texas Sands PAC won their elections.
The PAC already gave more than a half-million dollars to Texas candidates in both parties before the March 1 primary election. Most of those candidates were successful.
Casinos are constitutionally prohibited in Texas, though federally recognized Native American tribes operate a handful of gambling centers that resemble casinos.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. is seeking a ballot proposition that would amend the state constitution to allow a limited number of commercial casinos in the Lone Star State.
The PAC detailed its contributions in the campaign finance report due prior to the May 24 runoff. The lion’s share of its $608,000 in expenditures were political donations to candidates. The group reported $1.5 million in cash on hand.
The largest donations of $150,000 apiece went to Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Each received $75,000 in March and the same amount last month before the runoff.
Neither Patrick nor Phelan were in a runoff.
The lieutenant governor will face Democrat Mike Collier in the November general election. Phelan went unopposed in the Republican primary in House District (HD) 21 and faces no Democratic opponent in November.
Gov. Greg Abbott received a $75,000 donation from Texas Sands PAC, which already made a $75,000 contribution to his campaign before primary day. He faces Democrat Beto O’Rourke in the general election.
The following candidates received contributions on or after primary day:
- Gov. Greg Abbott
- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
- Comptroller Glenn Hegar
- Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston)
- Sen. Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
- Morgan LaMantia (D)
- Ben Bumgarner (R)
- Elisa Chan (R)
- Former Sen. Pete Flores (R)
- Frederick Frazier (R)
- Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth)
- Rep. E. Sam Harless (R-Spring)
- Caroline Harris (R)
- Rep. Kyle Kacal (R-College Station)
- Rep. John Kuempel (R-Seguin)
- Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso)
- Rep. Toni Rose (D-Dallas)
Of all these candidates, Chan is the only one to face a runoff and lose. The Republican candidate for HD 122 is Mark Dorazio.
Hegar, who received a $25,000 donation, did not have a runoff opponent and Democrat Janet Dudding won the runoff to challenge Hegar in November.
One of the closest races was for Williamson County’s HD 52, where Harris defeated Patrick McGuinness by a mere 113 votes. The PAC gave $10,000 to Harris’ campaign.
Flores and LaMantia each received $30,000 while Kacal received $15,000. All three defeated their opponents in the runoff.
The remaining candidates and officeholders received donations of $10,000 or less.
Kuempel, Rose, Geren, Moody, and Harless authored legislation last year to create a gambling commission in Texas and license a limited number of commercial casinos. Their proposals would have also created a sports wagering program. None of those state representatives had primary opponents.
Alvarado carried an identical version of the legislation in the Texas Senate. The senator ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.
A copy of Texas Sands PAC’s campaign finance report can be found below.
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- Ben Bumgarner
- Beto O'Rourke
- Carol Alvarado
- Caroline Harris
- Charlie Geren
- Dade Phelan
- Dan Patrick
- E. Sam Harless
- Elisa Chan
- Frederick Frazier
- Glenn Hegar
- Greg Abbott
- Janet Dudding
- Joe Moody
- John Kuempel
- Juan Hinojosa
- Kyle Kacal
- Las Vegas Sands Corp.
- Mike Collier
- Miriam Adelson
- Morgan LaMantia
- Patrick McGuinness
- Pete Flores
- Texas Ethics Commission
- Texas Sands PAC
- Toni Rose
Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."