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Spurs owner brings the heat in political money game

Two GOP super PACs among Peter Holt’s beneficiaries last year

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On the court, the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat are both powerhouses hungry for a National Basketball Association championship.

But in the political arena, it's a blowout in favor of the Spurs.

Ahead of the 2012 elections, Spurs owner Peter Holt and his wife, Julianna, donated four times as much money to federal politicians and political groups as Miami Heat owner Micky Arison and his wife, Madeleine, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of data maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Holts combined to contribute more than $500,000 during the 2012 election cycle. That includes $250,000 given to Restore Our Future, the super PAC that backed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and a $100,000 donation to the Texas Conservatives Fund, the super PAC that supported Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s failed U.S. Senate bid.

The Holts also donated more than $90,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee over the two-year period, and they made more modest contributions to a dozen other federal candidates.

The Arisons, meanwhile, combined to give about $125,000 to federal candidates and committees. But they didn't donate to super PACs, which proliferated in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision in 2010.

Super PACs have no limits on the amount of money they may raise or spend to support candidates. They may not, however, coordinate their spending with the candidates they hope to elect, nor may they directly contribute money to candidates' campaigns.

The Arisons split their contributions almost evenly between Republicans and Democrats. But the Holts overwhelmingly favored the GOP, with only 2 percent of their political contributions supporting Democrats ahead of the 2012 elections.

Both Holts donated $2,500 to Sylvia Romo who unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas. They each gave Joaquin Castro $1,250 during his successful U.S. House bid. And Peter Holt gave $2,500 to Rep. Henry Cuellar, who is now in his fifth term.

By contrast, the political candidates and groups most favored by the Arisons included the National Republican Congressional Committee ($15,000); Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., who is now in his 11th term ($10,000); the leadership PAC of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. ($7,000); and the leadership PAC of Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. ($5,800).

Micky Arison also contributed $10,000 to the political action committee of the Cruise Lines International Association during the 2012 election cycle. In addition to his basketball exploits, he serves as the chief executive officer of cruise operator Carnival Corp.

The Spurs and Heat tip off Thursday in a championship-deciding Game 7.