For discerning, super-wealthy donors looking for a distinctive way to advertise clout, the 2016 presidential election offers a new perk — their own specially tailored “super PAC.” Political professionals working on behalf of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, both Republicans, have set up multiple super PACs with nearly identical names, all in the interest of catering to the wishes of the well-heeled, particularly the moguls willing to write seven-figure checks. The idea is to convince these donors they will have a measure of control over how their money is spent. “Whether they have $5,000 or $5 million, they want to be able to participate in the process and give their thoughts and ideas,” said Austin Barbour, main strategist for the three super PACs backing Perry — all bearing the name Opportunity and Freedom.
“When they tell you things in this business, you better respond positively to what they are saying,” said Barbour, a Mississippi-based political consultant and veteran of Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign.
The 2016 presidential race is already dominated by super PACs and other groups that under federal law can take unlimited checks. In Perry’s case, for example, the trio of super PACs account for nearly all the money raised for his campaign so far, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.
More than 80% of the money came from just three donors, who put in a total of $15.3 million. The largest sum, $6.3 million, came from Kelcy Warren, an oil and gas pipeline billionaire from Dallas; an additional $5 million came from another Dallas billionaire, Darwin Deason. A $4-million contribution came in from a third donor whose name has not been released.