Over the past few years, the retired Hill Country couple Michael and Mary Porter have emerged as some of the biggest donors to Texas Republicans, most notably making two $1 million contributions to Gov. Greg Abbott.
Now they are getting even more serious about their giving, launching a new political action committee as the 2022 election cycle begins.
The group, Texans for Responsible Government, is starting with $1 million in initial funding from Michael Porter, according to an announcement first shared with The Texas Tribune. The PAC’s first donation was to presumptive state House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont.
“TRG PAC anticipates supporting candidates and officeholders in 2022 that are committed to preserving Texas’ prosperity, including limited government, expanding access to mental health care services, supporting veterans, promoting free enterprise, and enhancing education,” the announcement said.
The group represents a significant step for the publicity-shy Porters, who own Cross Creek Ranch in Doss, a tiny town outside Fredericksburg. The PAC will serve to “better organize, consolidate and manage” the couple’s political activities, according to the announcement. Its board consists of Michael Porter, former Texas Insurance Commissioner Kent Sullivan and Austin lobbyist Chris Britton.
The PAC’s first filing with the Texas Ethics Commission is due Jan. 15.
The Porters first drew political attention in 2017 when they cut their first $1 million check to Abbott’s campaign — and then again when they gave him another $1 million in 2019. Since 2017, though, they have also given to other statewide officials, and they were prolific last cycle in Republicans’ successful fight to hold their majority in the state House. In addition to giving to individual candidates, Michael Porter donated $1 million to the Republican State Leadership Committee, the top national group that helped keep the Texas House red.
More recently — and in a sign of where the couple falls on the Texas GOP spectrum — Michael Porter gave $70,000 to former state Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, after he advanced to a special election runoff for state Senate against Shelley Luther, the Abbott critic bankrolled by hard-right megadonor Tim Dunn. Springer, who went on to get Abbott’s endorsement for the seat, handily defeated Luther in the runoff last month.