Rick Perry’s campaign runs out of money, totally doesn’t tell super PAC to take over

Rick Perry’s campaign is broke.

After a shoddy debate performance that failed to help him improve on tepid polling numbers, Perry’s campaign announced that it has stopped paying staffers in multiple states as well as his Austin, Texas headquarters, and has given them the green light to look for jobs on other campaigns.

From the Washington Post:

The Perry campaign reported raising $1.14 million in the second quarter of this year and on July 15 reported having $883,913 on hand. The campaign is scaling down its expenditures to bare essentials — commercial plane tickets and hotel rooms for the candidate and an aide or two — and hoping for a breakthrough moment, perhaps in the Sept. 16 debate, that could boost fundraising.

Meanwhile, a group of Opportunity and Freedom super PACs promoting Perry’s candidacy — which are in far healthier state financially, having raised nearly $17 million by mid-July — are planning to compensate for the shrinking campaign.

The super PAC will be picking up a number of functions that would otherwise be carried out by the official campaign committee, including building a ground-level field program with paid staff of its own.

And how did the super PAC’s leadership know that they would need to step in and build a new campaign from scratch? According to Autin Barbour, a senior advisor to the Opportunity and Freedom super PAC, clairvoyance:

Rick Perry, via AddictingInfo

Rick Perry, via AddictingInfo

The super PACs are legally barred from coordinating with Perry’s official campaign. Barbour said he anticipated after the campaign’s financial filing last month that the super PACs would need to step up and do some of the responsibilities traditionally handled by campaigns, such as building a ground organization. He said they have begun building an extensive field program in Iowa, where the first-in-the-nation caucuses are critical to Perry’s strategy.

“We saw this was coming,” Barbour said. “We started working on our own plan. We knew we would have to go build a ground game.”

In other words, according to Barbour, the super PAC knew as soon as Perry’s fundraising numbers for his official campaign came out that this moment would come, and began putting together a field program in Iowa. This means that unpaid field staff for Perry’s campaign and paid field staff for Perry’s super PAC could conceivably have crossed paths already — possibly before the campaign staff knew that their paychecks were drying up.

Of course, at this point it makes sense for Perry’s campaign to drop the act, stop doubling up on their efforts, and allow his super PAC to pick up all functions outside of those directly involving the candidate. Perry’s campaign can organize his rallies, shuttle him between events, be present at debates, etc., but Opportunity and Freedom super PAC can run field operations, make ad buys, run direct mail campaigns and so on. They wouldn’t be the first to have the idea.

In any case, that Perry’s super PAC is able to so gracefully step in and pick up where his campaign left off smells of coordination. Not that it matters, since even if this move is illegal the FEC is in no position to prosecute it.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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