Meet Dallas Billionaire Harold Simmons, Radioactive Waste Magnate and Mitt Romney's Second-Biggest Donor
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has raised nearly $300 million, and it's largely been with the help of a coterie of extremely wealthy, and extremely prolific donors. The top donor, of course, is Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.
An artistic rendering of Harold Simmons
But the second biggest donor is a local guy we've all heard of: Harold Simmons, the Dallas billionaire who's donated some $16 million through various SuperPACs to the Romney campaign, according to The Associated Press. I like to think of Simmons as an evil genius, perhaps a Bond villain. He runs a titanium corporation that is apparently one of the top sources for the manufacture of weapons.
His Waste Control Specialists buries radioactive waste in West Texas. The story behind it is one of those only-in-the-Lone-Star-State kinds of sketchy. He lobbied the Texas Lege to license private companies to handle radioactive waste. Then he lobbied for a second bill to allow only one company to obtain such a license. And wouldn't you know, it was Simmons who got it. You can't help but start a slow-clap in admiration.
That wasn't even the half of it. Scientists with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, that venerable institution whose leadership is in no way nestled snugly in the governor's pocket, expressed grave concerns about the water table coming into contact with the radioactive waste. The permit got approved anyway, and several TCEQ scientists resigned in protest. The same year, the TCEQ executive chairman resigned, too. He took a position as a lobbyist for Simmons' company.
Simmons didn't end up in the 47 percent of layabouts because he is obviously an intelligent, shrewd man who works tirelessly and who knows how to wheel and deal. He wants Mitt Romney to be your next president. And he's willing to spend veiled millions through SuperPACs to get it done.