Jeb Bush’s, sometimes not necessarily copacetic, super PAC.
Back in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission that PACs (or political action committees) that didn’t make direct contributions to candidates, parties, or other PACs could accept unlimited resources (ie money). Thus the super PAC was born and changed the face of the political landscape forever.
So what are these mythical independent-expenditure only committees? In this series we introduce to you a couple of them that we think you should know about. In this installment we talk about Jeb Bush’s incredibly sketchy super PAC; Right to Rise!
So what super PAC are we talking about in this installment?
Jeb Bush’s super PAC, Right to Rise!
Hold on, candidates can have super PACs?
Yeah, it’s complicated.
For example, Right to Rise was originally founded by Jeb Bush himself. Technically speaking, super PACs are supposed to have zero contact with candidates running for office, however those rules are broken quite regularly. In this case however, Jeb Bush hadn’t officially announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential contest when he created Right to Rise, so legally he wasn’t breaking any rules.
Originally it said on the Right to Rise website that, “Right to Rise PAC is to support candidates who share our optimistic, conservative, positive vision for helping every American get ahead.” Essentially it was a PAC created to support organizations and individuals that support ideas and causes that Jeb Bush thinks is worth pursuing. So naturally when Jeb Bush officially announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential race, Right to Rise decided to back Bush because who would be better at championing Jeb Bush’s policies than… Jeb Bush…
Ok, are we 100% certain this isn’t illegal? Because it SURE SEEMS ILLEGAL!
Ok, not going to lie, this all seems super shady.
Oh, it gets worse.
While other candidates were announcing their candidacy for the 2016 presidential election, Jeb Bush took his. Sweet. Ass. Time. It wasn’t till June 15th that Bush announced he’d run for president, seven months after he had announced he was creating an “exploratory committee” for a 2016 presidential run!!
So he waited a long time to officially announce his candidacy. What’s the harm there?
The harm was that during those seven months when Bush was “exploring his options”, he was also creating one of the largest political war chests anyone has ever seen. Because he wasn’t an “official candidate” yet, Bush was able to coordinate with Right to Rise to raise an unlimited amount of money that didn’t have to be filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). He was getting so much that Bush actually requested his donors not to give too much money!
Yeah, told you it got worse.
Ugh, I’m afraid to ask but, how much has Right to Rise raised thus far?
Well, as of this writing, OpenSecrets says Right to Rise has raised over $103 million. To get an idea of how obscene that number is for a campaign committee or outside group, the next highest is Scott Walker’s super PAC – Unintimidated PAC – and it’s just barely over $20 million.
In other words, if you were to add up the totals of the top seven super PACs after Right to Rise, that total would STILL NOT ADD UP TO HOW MUCH RIGHT TO RISE HAS COLLECTED!!!
Alright, I’m officially bummed out.
Will this botched Right to Rise mailer featuring Jeb Bush with an inexplicable black left hand brighten your day?
Ok, that was pretty great! But still, $103 million!!! Whose, donating that much money to Right to Rise?
Based on current FEC filings, the biggest donor has come from Miguel “Mike” Fernandez – a Cuban-American Miami billionaire who made his fortune “flipping” health care companies – who gave $3 million. Other than that, there are over 25 individuals that gave around $1 million, which include T. Boone Pickens (oil tycoon), Ray Hunt (another oil tycoon), Francis Rooney (former ambassador to the Vatican) who gave $2 million, and Helen Schwab (investor and wife of Charles Schwab) who gave $1.5 million. There were a few $1 million donors from organizations like NextEra Energy (a major electric utility company in Florida) and a shell company known as Jasper Reserve LLC who looks to belong to a law firm that represents major coal companies in the US.
While $1 million donations is nothing to sneeze at, considering $103 million is such a large sum of money, I was expecting a few mega donors to be there as well.
You usually don’t see your mega-donors like Harold Simmons or Sheldon Adelson till later on in the election cycle when the smoke has cleared, after we know who the candidate for the Republican ticket will be. But what the list of donors does tell us is that Jeb Bush is most definitely the Republican establishment’s pick for their 2016 presidential ticket. The donor list is a who’s-who of individuals that backed “traditional” Republican candidates in the past.
So… what are they going to do with all that cash?
As of this writing, they haven’t done much with it. Right to Rise has only spent around $5 million on smaller projects thus far. But if reports are to be believed, there’s a massive $10 million ad buy around the corner in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina TV markets.
Though this early in the game, you don’t want to spend that money quiet yet.
What Million Dollar Man wrestling promo best describes Right to Rise?
For us, it’s that one promo where the Million Dollar Man and Virgil buy out the public pool.
Because the amount of money Right to Rise has fundraised gives them the flexibility and a litany of options to decide on what to do based on the political climate. Bush trailing in a close primary race in a certain state, then they can do more television ad buys. What, he’s leading by double digits in another? Then maybe a mailer in that state will do. Or maybe they just want to buy out a public pool for some reason? Why the fuck not? Because Right to Rise has the money to do it!
As the Million Dollar Man says, “everyone has a price.”
That includes elections.
(Photo Credit: Right to Rise website, Google Images, Right to Rise flyer, YouTube)