Think Progress has an important article up by Sarah Bufkin about the man who has guided and aided Rick Perry throughout his political career.
Dr. James Leininger has been there for Perry since 1998, when Perry first ran for Lieutenant Governor and Leininger guaranteed a $1.1M loan to the Perry campaign, which paid for a closing $1M advertising blitz. It is quite possible that without Leininger Perry does not become LG, and hence does not become governor two years later when George W. Bush moved into the White House. No Leininger, no Governor Rick Perry.
And Leininger is hosting a "call to action" for Perry August 27th.
The LA Times reports that Perry has received a total of $37M from just 150 individuals and couples over the last decade. Nearly half of those mega-donors received some sort of benefit - contracts, tax breaks, or appointments - from Perry. These, presumably, are the people Leininger is inviting.
So who is Leininger? Let's ask Molly Ivins, who doubtless would be snarking at Warp Factor 8 at the idea of President Perry. This article is from 1998.
The 54-year-old San Antonio physician, who made a fortune estimated at more than $300 million by making extremely fancy hospital beds, is an active funder and player in right-wing causes including school vouchers, home schooling, anti-abortion, tort reform, anti-gay rights, anti-unionism, anti-environmental efforts, a right-wing Texas think tank modeled on the Heritage Foundation, and Republican political candidates.
Apparently his dearest cause is school vouchers. The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund in 2006 described Leininger as The sugar daddy of the religious right.
The San Antonio physician made a fortune selling specialty hospital beds. His business empire has included a variety of other companies, including
Promised Land Dairy (which places a Bible verse on each milk container), the direct mail company Focus Direct and the political consulting firm of Winning Strategies.20 Yet among Dr. Leininger’s most significant investments have been in the careers of politicians who back his public policy agenda, including tort reform, private school vouchers, pushing religious conservative principles in public schools, and opposition to abortion and gay rights.
The friendship between Perry and Leininger, however, stretches back decades and is padded with over $1.3 million in campaign contributions.
Perry is the biggest beneficiary of Leininger cash over the years. And he has paid Leininger back in a variety of ways. But Leininger has helped Perry with more than campaign donations.
Back in early 1996, Perry even made over $38,000 after purchasing close to 3,000 shares of stock in one of Leininger’s companies. In what he termed “a coincidence,” Perry picked up his shares on the same day that he and Leininger talked together at a luncheon and that a new investment group sent the stock’s value skyrocketing.
If Karl Rove is Bush's Brain, it may well be that Dr. James Leininger is Perry's Brain. I'm not certain whether or not Leininger is worse than Rove, but he's bad enough.