Bob Perry, who built homes in Oak Lawn and was the top donor to the anti-gay marriage amendment in Texas, died Saturday.
Perry came to national attention in 2004 when he funded Karl Rove’s “swiftboating” campaign against Sen. John Kerry, who was challenging President George W. Bush. The purpose was to cast doubt on Kerry’s claim to being a decorated Vietnam War hero. Until the swiftboat ads ran, Kerry was ahead in the polls.
But the following year, Perry’s contribution of $110,000 to a PAC supporting the anti-gay amendment, caused many in the LGBT community to boycott his properties. In Oak Lawn, Perry built The Reserve at Reagan and Wycliff Place. Downtown he built City View at Farmer’s Market.
Gay real estate agent Jack Evans said at the time: “Why feed the enemy? The more profit he makes from the community, the more he’s going to try his best to bury it.”
An Austin-based Perry spokesman at the time said Perry was not homophobic because he wouldn’t be building homes in LGBT neighborhoods if he were. Perry Homes also built properties in Houston’s heavily gay Montrose neighborhood.
After many Oak Lawn real estate agents stopped showing Perry properties, the Houston homebuilder withdrew from the Dallas market and now only has offices in Houston and San Antonio.
In 2001 and 2002, he was the largest individual contributor to the Texas Republican Party, with $905,000 in contributions.
He was the largest contributor to Gov. Rick Perry’s 2006 campaign with about $400,000 in contributions.
He was also the largest contributor to former House Speaker Tom DeLay, and he gave $18 million to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and groups backing him.
While Perry mostly backed Republicans, he backed Democrats who supported “education, economic liberty and tort reform.” Those have included state Sens. Rodney Ellis and John Whitmire, and Rep. Senfronia Thompson, members of the Texas legislature who are also strong LGBT allies.
In the 2012 Wisconsin recall election of Gov. Scott Walker, Perry donated $500,000 to the governor.
Perry’s houses were known for shoddy construction and a 10-year warranty that the company didn’t always back, according to a 2005 article in the Houston Press. A Mansfield couple was awarded $58 million in 2011 against the home builder because of poor construction and failure to uphold terms of the warranty.