Now, that Rick Perry has officially thrown his name into the hat, it’s time to take a deep look into him and who is behind him.
Over at Huffington Post, take it or leave it, they are looking into the seven Super Pacs who are supporting his bid for candidacy.
(HuffingtonPost) – There are currently seven Super PACs — independent political committees that can accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations and unions — supporting Perry’s bid. The most recently formed is Make Us Great Again, which is, perhaps, the most emblematic of the veil of independence worn by these candidate-centric committees.
The committee was founded by former Perry chief of staff and longtime associate Mike Toomey. Toomey is so close to the Perry inner circle he even co-owns a private island in New Hampshire with Perry’s campaign manager Dave Carney. Toomey was also listed in a Texas Tribune report on the “folks” behind Perry.
The other pro-Perry Super PACs are no better in presenting themselves as independent.
Jobs for Vets Fund and Veterans for Rick Perry were started by former Perry legislative director Dan Shelley. Veterans for Rick Perry even made a revealing error on their initial statement of organization by checking a box stating that the committee supported one candidate and listing Rick Perry as that candidate. Super PACs are forbidden from explicitly supporting one candidate. An amended statement was filed to correct this error. Shelley has set a $1 million fundraising target for campaign efforts in the early primary states Iowa and South Carolina.
Another committee, Americans for Rick Perry, is run by California political consultant Bob Schuman, a former campaign consultant for former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), Perry’s political mentor. Schuman’s consulting firm has also represented the pharmaceutical company Merck, which was represented in Texas by Toomey. Toomey’s lobbying for Merck became a scandal in Texas after Perry mandated that all schoolgirls receive a vaccination against HPV — a vaccination that was made by Merck. The ensuing controversy led the state legislature to override the governor and block the mandate. Schuman’s effort has so far been underwritten by a large contribution from Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, a major Perry donor who has used his political clout to gain support from Perry’s administration to bury nuclear waste in western Texas.
Toomey has recently attempted to corner the market in pro-Perry Super PACs by telling Perry donors that Make Us Great Again is the only true pro-Perry group: “Our advice is to avoid any other group claiming to be ‘the’ pro-Perry independent effort and, when the timing is right, to support Make Us Great Again.”
It would be illegal for any of the Super PACs supporting Perry’s bid to coordinate with the campaign, even prior to a formal announcement. The incredibly close ties between the individuals behind the pro-Perry PACs and the inner circle of the Perry campaign raise serious questions and doubts about the independent efforts of the groups.
It is also important to note that:
Similar candidate-focused Super PACs for other Republican candidates have raised concerns about coordination. Restore Our Future PAC, the pro-Mitt Romney committee, was founded by three veterans of Romney’s 2008 run for the Republican presidential nod.
Super PACs have also been formed to support the bids of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).