Donor profile: Harlan Crow

Quick stats on the biggest financial backers of Election 2012

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Total contributions to super PACs: $3.4 million*

  • $1.75 million to American Crossroads (pro-Republican), all of which is from either Crow Holdings or HRC Family Branch Partnership
  • $1.3 million to Restore Our Future (pro-Mitt Romney), including $650,000 from Crow Holdings and $500,000 from brother Trammell Crow
  • $250,000 to FreedomWorks for America (pro-conservative), all of which is from Crow Holdings
  • $50,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund (pro-David Dewhurst), all of which is from Crow Holdings
  • $35,000 to the Campaign for Primary Accountability (anti-incumbent), all of which is from Crow Holdings
  • $25,000 to American Unity PAC (pro-Republican), all of which is from Trammell Crow
  • $20,000 to Freedom PAC (pro-Connie Mack; pro-Allen West), all of which is from HRC Family Branch Partnership
  • $10,000 to JAN PAC (pro-Republican), all of which is from Crow Holdings

Federal hard and soft money and 527 contributions:

  • $50,000 to the Republican National Committee
  • $20,000 to the Republican National Congressional Committee
  • $5,000 to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
  • $5,000 to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney

State-level contributions:

  • $50,000 to Texas Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas
  • $25,000 to Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott
  • $25,000 to Kelly Hancock, Republican candidate for Texas Senate in District 9

Corporate name: Crow Family Holdings, LLC

Corporate subsidiaries: Crow Investment Trust. Substantial stakes in Wyndham Hotels, Trammell Crow Residential and Trammel Crow Co.

Total spent on lobbying (2007-2012): None found.

Family: Trammell S. Crow (brother)

Biography:

Harlan Crow heads up Crow Family Holdings, which manages the Crows’ assets stemming from the late Trammell Crow’s massive real estate investment and development company.

The elder Crow came from modest means and started Trammell Crow Co. from scratch in 1948. By 1971, Forbes called it the “largest landlord in the United States.”

Harlan Crow, Trammell’s third son, took over the company in 1988 in the middle of a real estate crash. He took the company public in 1997 and remains a director.

Now Crow is chairman and CEO of Crow Family Holdings, which remains a major stakeholder in Trammell Crow Co. and other subsidiaries. Crow Holdings acquired many of the properties formerly belonging to Trammell Crow Co. and its affiliates, according to the New York Times.

Crow helped found the conservative nonprofit Club for Growth, according to the Savannah Morning News. The organization has injected more than $16 million into the 2012 election via both its nonprofit arm and its super PAC, Club for Growth Action, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

He is also a member of the board of trustees of the American Enterprise Institute, a free-market, conservative think tank.

The American Enterprise Institute, and Club for Growth, in particular, favor tea party candidates, but not all of Crow’s giving has been to such free-market Republicans. In fact, this year he gave $5,000, the maximum contribution, to Republican establishment favorite (and tea party foil) Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who ran for U.S. Senate in Texas. Dewhurst faced a barrage of attack ads from Club for Growth’s PAC and ultimately lost to tea party favorite Ted Cruz after a costly and contentious runoff election.

The Crow family has also been a major donor to Restore Our Future, a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC, to which Crow Holdings, Harlan Crow and his brother Trammell S. Crow gave $1.3 million to the group, which failed to help Romney win the presidency. Crow Holdings also gave $1.75 million to American Crossroads, a conservative super PAC co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove that spent heavily to aid Romney and congressional Republicans.

Restore Our Future and American Crossroads are the two best-funded super PACs in the election.

In addition to his political notoriety, Crow has become well known in certain art circles for his collection of statues of dictators. Statues of Stalin, Mao and Lenin exist alongside lesser known despots in Crow’s private garden.

Last updated: Jan. 30, 2013

*2011-2012 election cycle. Source: Center for Responsive Politics and Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission records. Totals include contributions from individuals, family members and corporations that are controlled by the individual super donor.