"These are the staff members who must work with the company who will be fulfilling the contract, so they have a vested interest in ensuring that the most qualified and capable applicant receives the contract," Eck wrote in an email.
Horne LLP executive partner Joey Havens said in a statement that the contributions were not connected to the contract and noted that the company has worked for the agency under Patterson and Bush.
"We regret the inconvenient timing of our partners' recent political contributions, as they have no connection to our recent contract or our existing contracts already in place under former Commissioner Patterson," Havens said. "Horne is proud to have provided disaster recovery services to Texas since 2010."
Some of the contracts in question are related to projects that have given Bush headaches in his rocky first term.
San Antonio-based Pape-Dawson Engineers, for instance, won a $251,000 contract to work on Bush's controversial plan to revitalize the Alamo on April 25, 2016 -- four days after CEO Sam Dawson gave Bush's campaign $2,500. Sam Dawson and Eugene Dawson, the company's director, also gave Bush $5,000 each in late 2014.
Most of the other contracts involve the agency's Hurricane Harvey response, which has become a campaign issue because Patterson has accused Bush of being slow to act and criticized him for taking out-of-state trips after the disaster.
DSW Homes owner Steve Mataro gave Bush $5,000 in 2013, early in his first campaign, and won a $20.4 million contract in 2017 as part of the Harvey effort.
Sullivan Land Services, or SLSCO, last year won four Harvey-related contracts from the agency totaling $23.6 million. John, William and Todd Sullivan have donated to Bush's campaign nine times from 2013 through last year for a total of $16,875, including an in-kind contribution for "venue rental for fundraising event."
H2Bravo, a Louisiana-based disaster recovery firm, won a $47 million land office contract in October. In 2013, the company's program planner, Baton Rouge lawyer Reid Bruce, gave Bush $3,000. Reached by phone, Bruce declined to comment.
Tegrity Homes' Chief Financial Officer Jason Franks in 2014 gave Bush $500. In November of last year, it won a $20.4 million land office contract.