The Ice Man: Harold & Annette Simmons

Under investigation by the SEC, the FBI, and the FTC, this billionaire decided to take on the FEC


Harold & Annette Simmons: Dallas, Texas, $124,230. Party: R

When, in the late ’80s, corporate takeover artist Harold C. Simmons, 64, found himself under investigation by the SEC, the FBI, and the FTC, he decided to fight back. Simmons told the Los Angeles Times that it was at that point that he “started spending money and doing some lobbying [himself] in Washington. That’s what you’ve got to do to defend yourself.”

The “Ice Man,” as he is known by his corporate colleagues, began to defend himself with such zeal–$125,000 to Gingrich’s GOPAC, $25,000 to Dole’s Better America Fund, etc.–that in 1993 the Federal Election Commission found Simmons guilty of violating federal campaign contribution laws. Specifically, in ’88 and ’89 Simmons exceeded the yearly $25,000 contribution limit. Simmons was fined $19,800, hardly a deterrent to someone whose estimated worth tops $1.8 billion.

Simmons’ most recent giving pattern shows a new strategy: Instead of flagrantly donating more than the $1,000 limit to a single candidate in one election cycle–as Simmons did in 1990 when he gave $6,000 to Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.)–the Ice Man recruits help from his family.

In the 1991-92 campaign cycle, Simmons gave $5,000 each to four of his favorite PACs: NL Industries PAC, Baroid PAC, Contran PAC, and the Small Biz PAC. Simmons’ wife Annette also gave $5,000 each to the four PACs, as did Simmons’ four daughters, Andrea, Serena, Lisa, and Scheryle. All of these contributions were made on the same dates.

And, to make the giving even cozier, Simmons owns three of the four PACs, enabling him to control which candidates get funded by his (and his family’s) money. In the 1993-94 election cycle, for example, the Simmons family and PACs doled out $16,500 to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas); $7,000 to Sen. Michael DeWine (R-Ohio); and $6,000 to Ollie North, for his failed senatorial campaign in Virginia.