DALLAS – Dallas billionaire and heavyweight GOP political donor Harold Simmons, who has given tens of millions of dollars to Republican candidates, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has died. He was 82.
Simmons, born to two schoolteachers in East Texas, became one of the richest men in the country with interests ranging from energy to chemicals.
Simmons’ spokesman, Chuck McDonald, said Simmons died Saturday in Dallas. McDonald said he did not know the cause of death.
Perry on Sunday called Simmons “a true Texas giant, rising from humble beginnings and seizing the limitless opportunity for success we so deeply cherish in our great state.”
“His legacy of hard work and giving … will live for generations,” Perry said in a statement.
Simmons’ wife, Annette Simmons, told the Dallas Morning News her husband died at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. She said he’d been in Baylor’s intensive care unit for the last eight days, the newspaper reported.
Simmons has given tens of millions to Texas organizations, including charities, medical groups, education groups and civic organizations. A UT Southwestern Medical Center said his donations to their institution alone approached $200 million.
In 2008, Simmons bankrolled ads linking then-presidential candidate Barack Obama to William Ayers, a Vietnam-era militant who helped found the violent Weather Underground. Simmons was also a key backer of the Swift Boat Veterans’ attacks on Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.