The total of campaign contributions pouring in to the Tarrant Regional Regional Water District board of directors race has spilled over half a million dollars in filings reported 30 days before the May 9 election.
Once a low-key affair, races for two board seats were expected to be costly, and the campaign finance reports that were due Thursday are showing those expectations to be correct.
The two candidates who receive the most votes will win the seats.
Areas allowed to vote include most, but not all, of Fort Worth, Azle, Edgecliff Village, Westworth Village and Westover Hills, and part of River Oaks.
The water district provides raw water to almost all of Tarrant County. It is building the $2.3 billion Integrated Pipeline project with Dallas as a partner and is spearheading the $910 million Trinity River Vision project just north of downtown Fort Worth.
Our Water, Our Future, the political action committee formed to support incumbent board members Marty Leonard and Jim Lane, reported contributions totaling $447,633 and expenditures of $158,424.76.
The PAC, which lists former Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief as its treasurer, had contributions from a number of well-known business leaders in Dallas-Fort Worth,including Ed Bass, Ross Perot Jr. and Alice Walton.
Leonard, 78, of Fort Worth, reported $75,908.19 in campaign contributions, including $72,208.19 from the Our Water, Our Future PAC. Her expenditures were $17,974.50
Lane, 70, of Fort Worth, is running on a slate with Leonard and reported $75,108.19, including $72,108.19 from the PAC, His expenditures were $18,974.50
The Clean Water Committee, another political action committee that has historically supported board incumbents, reported total political contributions of $1,900 but no expenditures.
Challenger Craig Bickley, 38, lives outside the water district but owns land in River Oaks, which makes him eligible to run. He reported $64,283.74 with $40,602.74 from Dallas businessman Monty Bennett’s MJB Operating L.P. Total expenditures were $125.64.
Bennett has been involved in a series of legal battles with the district dealing with a section of the Integrated Pipeline running through property surrounded by his ranch in Henderson County.
An additional $20,000 was contributed by MJB Operating to the Save North Texas Water PAC, which in turn donated $20,000 to Bickley for media production. The Save North Texas Water PAC was formed to oppose Lane and Leonard; Trey DeMoville of Aledo is listed as treasurer.
Michele Von Luckner, 46, who is running on a slate with Bickley, reported $39,472.74 in campaign contributions with total expenditures of $8.20. Her biggest contribution was $38,102.74 from MJB Operating.
A fifth candidate, Keith Annis, 43, who has said he is not aligned with the incumbents or the challengers, reported $15,235. Total expenditures were $2,285.83.
Annis’ biggest contributions included $10,000 from Brian K. Annis of Oak Ridge, Tenn., and $4,000 from the Texas Democratic Party.
The Our Water, Our Future PAC included $80,000 contributions from the Texas Progress Fund, which lists Fort Worth attorney Dee J. Kelly as its treasurer. The monthly filing of the PAC listed three contributions in its campaign finance report, including $25,000 from Fort Worth businessman Ed Bass and Ross Perot Jr. of Plano.
The Bass family’s Good Government Fund and PSEL PAC each contributed $25,000 to Our Water, Our Future.
Other $25,000 contributors included John Kleinheinz of Fort Worth, Paul E. Andrews Jr. of Aledo, Carl Sewell of Dallas, Ray L. Hunt of Dallas and Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton of Millsap. Contributions of $12,500 came from Jeff Busby of Fort Worth and Michael D. Dry of Fort Worth.
Contributions of $10,000 came from Kelly, the Fort Worth attorney; Michael Berry of Fort Worth, president of Hillwood Properties; Daniel Feehan of Fort Worth; Barry G. Andrews of Dallas; Texas Rangers owner Ray C. Davis of Dallas; oilman Trevor D. Rees-Jones of Dallas; and Henry C. Beck III of Dallas.
The Betsy Price Campaign contributed $4,500 to Our Water, Our Future PAC and $500 to Leonard.
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698