James Leininger is often referred to as the "Sugar Daddy" of Religious Right zealots. The Texas physician made a fortune selling overpriced hospital beds while lobbying to make sure that patients who die from medical malpractice are not permitted to seek legal redress. Leininger is a longtime supporter of Rick Perry and his ultraconservative policies. From the Texas Tribune: What makes Leininger one of the most powerful people in Texas politics is less the amount of money he has given over the years than the broad reach of his spending and his commitment to a conservative agenda. By pumping tens of thousands of dollars into the previously ignored State Board of Education races, he turned an obscure committee of retired teachers into an ideological hornet's nest, whose debates over curriculum and textbook content have made national news. (After shoveling wads of cash into the history- and science-challenged, fundamentalist-driven SBoE, board members turned around and presented him with their "Heroes For Children Award." One wonders if the plaque came with a complementary backscratcher.)
From the Houston Chronicle: Leininger, who hosted a Christian Right retreat for Perry last month, has donated more than $200,000 to Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns and another $100,000 to the Republican Governor’s Association when Perry was its chairman in 2007... Leininger also helped bankroll — along with another huge Perry donor, homebuilder Bob Perry (no relation) — the campaign for the anti-gay marriage state constitutional amendment that the governor championed. In addition, Leininger pumped tens of thousands of dollars into State Board of Education races on behalf of Christian conservatives who, once elected, fought for curriculum standards designed to undermine and dilute the teaching of evolution in Texas schools.
The advocacy group Texans For Public Justice has issued a report on Dr. Leininger titled "Rick Perry's Heavenly Host." This is an apt appellation. After all, in the Republican mosh pit, religion and governance are inextricably linked.