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

  1. Sally says:

    Yeah, and none of it theirs…

  2. gratuitous says:

    Well, thankfully we have strong campaign finance laws that prohibit even the appearance of–what? Well, the presence of so much dark money is sure to be a corrupting influen–what?! The Supreme Court said WHAT? Oh fuck me.

  3. nicho says:

    BTW — someone tried to change my Disqus password in the last day. I know FLL had some problems that folks thought were due to the account being hacked. So, people should just beware.

  4. woodroad34 says:

    Yeah, the glasses prove he’s more Clark Kent than Superman; actually they make him Superd*ck.

  5. UncleBucky says:

    So, doing a Book Tour is exactly like doing a Presidential Campaign for Rethuglicans, eh? Or is it the reverse, a Presidential Campaign is exactly like doing a Book Tour???

  6. UncleBucky says:

    No 50-state strategy for “Glasses” Perry. Pity. {cackle}

  7. Naja pallida says:

    This is how most super PACs already work. They don’t exist to spend money, they exist to make money. Their actual political operations rely almost exclusively on volunteers and interns, what actual paid staffers they do have aren’t exactly getting a percentage of the take.

  8. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Here’s a plan: Create another Super PAC, called maybe Opportunity and Triumph, and issue a bunch of press releases talking about a massive horde of volunteers, a powerful ground game, an organization two years in the making, etc. Play it to the hilt, tell everyone who will listen how many events you’re having and how much money is being raised.

    Then do nothing. Keep telling everyone you’re doing things, but do nothing. If no coordination is the norm, that will be fine, right? The campaign won’t care about your activity since you’re independent entities. Then when election time rolls around, just say oops, I guess we weren’t that good at running a Super PAC.

  9. nicho says:

    The American political system is just like a giant game of Monopoly — except they use real money.

  10. BeccaM says:

    In other words, Rick Perry’s nascent but obviously doomed pseudo-campaign has accomplished its purpose: To raise millions of dollars for a SuperPAC which, once his campaign officially shuts down, is a huge slush fund which Rick Perry can use however he likes. Meanwhile, because fundraising is drying up, Perry and his campaign managers will be looking to conserve what’s left of the official campaign funds — hence asking people to work without pay, in advance of the high likelihood he’ll drop out completely in the next few weeks.

    Stephen Colbert explored this in great detail during his “Build a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow” 2012 campaign, where he had an elections law specialist explain how the whole idea of the SuperPAC is he (1) doesn’t need to tell anywhere where the money came from, (2) there are almost no restrictions other than “can’t coordinate with official campaign”, but (3) other than this, Perry or whoever controls the SuperPAC can spend the money any way they want to and don’t have to reveal to anyone what they’ve done. As Colbert explained, after he ‘suspended’ his not-really-a-campaign and took back control of his SuperPAC from Jon Stewart, the money in that campaign had almost no limits on what Colbert could do with it afterward. Up to and including cutting checks to himself. (Colbert donated it to charity; I rather doubt Rick Perry has the same plans in mind.)

    Personally, I suspect that aside from Donald Trump being a professional troll and egomaniac, only a fraction of the dozen-plus would-be GOP candidates are truly serious about running. The rest are running a political grift.

  11. iamlegion says:

    You assume Perry’s superPAC is run by people even one whit smarter than Perry himself. I submit that this is not the case…

  12. Houndentenor says:

    This campaign finance system is absurd. Separate campaigns totally not coordinating or exchanging funds? Colbert and Stewart effectively parodied this in 2012, but it’s still going on.

  13. Indigo says:

    It’s probably wrong of me to say this openly but I can’t look at a picture of Perry without thinking of those now fading 1970’s porn stars dressed only in their long, striped socks. He’s that cute . . . in that obsolete way.

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