Cruz super PAC claim: More than $37 million raised

Washington CNN —  

Three of the top ten conservative donors in the last presidential election are giving to the super PACs supporting Ted Cruz that now claim to have raised more than $37 million to support his bid, a shocking haul and donor list for such a populist Republican candidate amid a crowded 2016 field.

Florida businessman John W. Childs and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair have committed to support Cruz, according to a leader of the super PAC. Together, the pair committed about $7.5 million to conservative outside groups in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Major Republican donor Robert Mercer, whose family foundation’s accountant serves as the treasurer for one of the the Texas senator’s super PACs, is also expected to have donated substantially to the groups. Together, this trifecta of donors could give lift to a fundraising operation once predicted to lag significantly behind its competitors.

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Cruz appeared Tuesday night at a kickoff fundraiser for the constellation of four groups – all of which are titled with variations of “Keep the Promise.” About 45 donors heard Cruz at the Knickerbocker Club in New York City, showing that support is wider than any individual donor, the Cruz source said.

The Cruz super PACs wowed some top Republicans by saying within two weeks after Cruz announced his presidential bid that it had raised $31 million. That haul might be expected by Cruz competitors such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has long been admired by the nation’s business elite, but was surprising for a tea party firebrand who has relished in fighting the political class.

The super PACs’ success and donors cannot be independently verified until they file campaign finance reports later this summer.

Though Childs, McNair and Mercer are some of the most premier names in the Republican donor world, only one of those top 2012 donors, the super PAC leader said, ranks among the top three donors to the Cruz super PACs.

Toby Neugebauer, a Houston investor and the son of a Texas congressman, has committed $10 million to the super PACs, but is not the largest donor, the source said. The single biggest backer is instead one Texas family that will formally be announced soon, but is not yet willing to identify itself.

The leader of the super PACs confirmed they formed four different groups in order to grant individual contributors maximum control of their donation, an arrangement that election lawyers have considered fairly unusual.

“The political consultants are going to operate under a new structure of accountability, and I think that’s helpful for the candidates,” the Cruz leader said. “This is a super PAC that is like a crew team operating at the highest level of efficiency.”

The super PACs are still very much in their infancy – they do not yet have a website like their GOP competitors’ candidate-approved groups, for instance.

The leader of the operation also said the Cruz allies has created a political nonprofit group, organized under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, that allows donors to hide their identities despite cutting unlimited checks to support Cruz. Yet that group’s budget is very small compared to the muscle of the ‘Keep the Promise’ groups and will focus solely on issue advocacy, according to the Cruz fundraiser.

The updated fundraising total was first reported Tuesday afternoon by Politico.