Ted Cruz’s presidential effort is getting into the shock-and-awe fundraising business.
An associate of the Texas senator, a recently announced presidential candidate, tells Bloomberg that a cluster of affiliated super-political action committees was formed only this week, and among them they are expected to have $31 million in the bank by Friday.
Even in the context of a presidential campaign cycle in which the major party nominees are expected to raise more than $1.5 billion, Cruz’s haul is eye-popping, one that instantly raises the stakes in the Republican fundraising contest.
Although super-PACs have radically changed the pace at which committees backing presidential candidates can raise money, the Cruz haul is remarkable. There are no known cases in which an operation backing a White House hopeful has collected this much money in less than a week.
Those involved in the Cruz super-PACS say many of his biggest financial backers haven’t yet made contributions to the new organizations and are expected to do so in the coming months. By law, super-PACS can accept unlimited contributions from individuals.
From his time as a Senate candidate in 2012, Cruz has been one of the country’s most aggressive and successful super-PAC fundraisers. His political team has calculated from the start of their planning for a presidential campaign that his overall operation would be able to keep pace with rivals in part because of a robust super-PAC operation. They have talked among themselves about the names of numerous wealthy Cruz backers who they fully expect will contribute several million dollars each.
Still, even some Cruz supporters, and many others who have been skeptical that his candidacy could draw significant financial support, are certain to be stunned by this initial round of contributions.
While former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is universally expected to easily lead all other Republican presidential candidates in financial backing, a hotly debated topic in political circles has been who would finish second to Bush in money raised by the end of 2015. This week’s apparent lightning strike could help Cruz claim that spot, possibly besting other leading prospects such as Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Cruz’s campaign is also expected to raise money competitively at the grassroots level through the Internet and small-dollar contributions, as well as through traditional bundling of so-called hard-dollar checks, which are subject to limits of $2,700 per election per individual. Either of those methods, of course, would require significantly more than a week to generate $31 million.
According to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission, the treasurer for the three of the new super-PACS is Dathan Voelter, an Austin, Texas, attorney who is a longtime friend and financial backer of Cruz. A fourth lists as its treasurer Jacquelyn James of Port Jefferson Station, N.Y. All four PACS have a variant of the name “Keep the Promise.”
A document prepared by the super-PAC organizers says they “are committed to raising the resources necessary to promote Senator Cruz in his efforts to win the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.” The document quotes Voelter as saying, “We’re just getting started … Our goal is to guarantee Senator Cruz can compete against any candidate. Supporters of the Senator now have a powerful vehicle with the resources necessary to aid in his effort to secure the Republican nomination and win back the White House.” The document describes those “leading the financial charge” as “a group of close, personal friends of Senator Cruz, who share his conservative vision for America.”
According to the source close to Cruz, more than $20 million of the $31 million is expected by Wednesday, with the rest due in by the end of the week. Those cash figures could not be independently confirmed by Bloomberg, and sources declined to provide financial documents to support the claim.
The group does not plan to reveal the names or number of donors until they are legally required to do so, at the end of the FEC reporting period on July 15.
According to a person familiar with the workings and financing of the new super-PACs, many of the donors are former backers of George W. Bush and Perry. Bush’s brother, of course, and Perry himself, are seeking the White House now, which makes Cruz’s coup that much more impressive. A Houston-area associate of Cruz’s has led the effort to pull together the donors, many of whom are Texans and New Yorkers.
The PAC names are “Keep the Promise,” "Keep the Promise I," “Keep the Promise II,” and “Keep the Promise III.” An internal document describing the groups’ intentions says, “Every PAC in the Keep the Promise network will fully comply with all disclosure and recordkeeping obligations set forth in federal law. The use of multiple PACS, however, will allow Keep the Promise to uniquely and flexibly tailor its activities in support of Senator Cruz and afford donors greater control over PAC operations.”
In a cover letter dated April 6, sent to the FEC along with the formal filings for three of the super-PAC entities, Voelter says that the trio “are affiliated with one another for legal and regulatory purposes.” It lists an Austin post office box as their shared address, and the Fifth Third Bank in Atlanta as the place where funds are being deposited.
Voelter declined to comment.
The document from the group says that “Keep the Promise can provide the ‘appropriate air cover’ in the battle against Senator Cruz’s opponents in the Washington establishment and on the political left. We plan to support the effort of millions of courageous conservatives who believe 2016 is our last opportunity to ‘keep the promise’ of America for future generations.”
This story has been updated to reflect the filing of paperwork for a fourth super-PAC.