AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Republican mega-donor Bob Perry never cared for the spotlight. But writing big checks and financing one of the most famous television ads ever in a presidential campaign made the Texas millionaire famous nonetheless.
Perry died over the weekend. Former Texas state Rep. Neal Jones, a family friend, said the wealthy Houston home builder died "peacefully in his sleep" Saturday night. He was 80.
Perry shunned publicity while generously bankrolling GOP candidates and becoming a force in a new era of lavish spending in American politics. Among his most famous contributions was giving $4.4 million in 2004 to the Swift Boat Veterans campaign that sought to discredit then-Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
Last year, Perry gave more than $18 million to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and organizations backing his candidacy.