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School voucher supporter gave Gov. Greg Abbott $6 million in December

3 months 1 day 8 hours ago Tuesday, January 16 2024 Jan 16, 2024 January 16, 2024 4:49 PM January 16, 2024 in News - Texas news
Source: https://www.texastribune.org/
By: PATRICK SVITEK | THE TEXAS TRIBUNE
Gov. Greg Abbott at a press conference at the Governor's Mansion in March 2023. Credit: Leila Saidane/The Texas Tribune

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Gov. Greg Abbott received a $6 million campaign contribution last month, which his campaign is calling the “largest single donation in Texas history.”

The check came from Jeff Yass, a national Republican megadonor whose priority issues include school vouchers. Abbott spent 2023 unsuccessfully pushing for a voucher program and is now targeting state House Republicans in the March primary who thwarted his agenda.

Abbott accepted the $6 million donation — dated Dec. 18 — in a little-used account, suggesting he was setting it aside from funds raised for his reelection campaign.

Yass is a billionaire from Pennsylvania who is co-founder and managing director of the Philadelphia-based investment firm Susquehanna International Group. He is also a top proponent of “school choice,” or programs that allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize private school costs.

Abbott has long been known as a fundraising powerhouse, but the $6 million contribution takes him to a new level. Abbott has previously made headlines for getting single donations of $1 million.

He raised $19 million total over the last six months.

Yass has been called the richest man in Pennsylvania, with an estimated net worth of nearly $29 billion, according to Forbes. His firm was an early investor in TikTok, the social media platform that Abbott banned on state phones and computers in 2022.

When it comes to politics, Yass has also been a multimillion-dollar donor to the Club for Growth, the national anti-tax group that has boosted Texas Republicans like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Chip Roy of Austin.

The $6 million is not Yass' first donation to Abbott. Yass previously gave Abbott $250,000 in October, as Abbott was still battling for school vouchers in the Legislature.

Abbott identified “school choice” as his top legislative priority for 2023, and spent months traveling the state trying to build public support. But he kept encountering resistance in the House. After a measure failed in the regular legislative session in May, he called two special sessions for lawmakers to hear voucher proposals. The fight came to a head in November, when 21 House Republicans joined Democrats to strip a voucher initiative out of a broad education bill.

Abbott has since endorsed primary challengers to seven of the anti-voucher House Republicans who are seeking reelection.

In addition to giving a total of $6.25 million to Abbott in 2023, Yass also cut a $500,000 check last month to AFC Victory Fund, a pro-voucher super PAC that is expected to be similarly active in the primaries.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2024/01/16/greg-abbott-jeff-yass-camapaign-donation/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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