Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday will announce that he has recruited more than 80 major donors, including some of the biggest bundlers in Republican politics, to aid his efforts as he prepares for a likely 2016 presidential campaign.
Perry's list of supporters is heavy with wealthy Texans, including many energy executives, investors or other business leaders who have backed his previous campaigns, such as his unsuccessful 2012 presidential run. The Rick PAC Advisory Board also features bigwigs in California, New York, Florida, Illinois and other donor-rich states, as well as more than a dozen donors who made five- or six-figure contributions in 2012 to Republican nominee Mitt Romney's campaign, his super PAC or both, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
Among the longtime Republican donors supporting Perry are Hank Greenberg, former chief executive of AIG; Bill Fleischman, chief executive of a Los Angeles-based private equity firm; Papa Doug Manchester, a San Diego property investor and media executive; Georgette Mosbacher, a cosmetics chief executive; and Bob Murray, chief executive of Murray Energy Corp., a major coal mine operator.
“I am grateful and humbled to have the support of so many champions of conservative principles,” Perry said in a statement to The Post. “I look forward to working with the men and women on RickPAC’s Advisory Board to continue promoting policies that create opportunity for American families by allowing job creators to risk their capital and get a return on their investment, including low taxes and a smart and predictable regulatory environment.”
Perry, who left office in January after serving a record 14 years as governor, plans to make the 80-plus names on the advisory committee public on Thursday morning. His announcement comes amid heated, behind-the-scenes jockeying for financial support among Perry and many other Republican White House hopefuls, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
With his announcement, Perry hopes to signal that he would enjoy considerable financial support should he make a second presidential run in 2016, as many of his supporters anticipate. Most of the people listed have given the maximum $5,000 donation to Rick PAC and they are likely to make up the finance team of any Perry campaign or pro-Perry super PAC, should he pull the trigger on a run.
"It's very encouraging and exciting that so many influential leaders in this country are signing on to assist the Governor spread his positive vision of conservative values around the country," said Jeff Miller, Perry's chief political strategist.
Perry also wants to send a warning shot to his potential rivals that many of his longtime Texas backers will support him again, despite being out of office and no longer empowered to reward his donors with appointments to the state's many boards and commissions or other perks that sitting governors can dole out.
Bush in particular is expected to raise a lot of money in Texas, the home state of his brother and father, both former presidents, as well as one of his sons, George P. Bush, who was sworn in last month as state land commissioner. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) also has a finance base in the state, while Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), whose father represented Texas in Congress, has roots there as well.
Perry has said he won't decide about launching another campaign until this spring, but he has left little doubt that his answer will be yes. After embarrassing himself in the 2012 campaign, Perry has worked hard at becoming, as he put it in an interview with The Post last December, "a substantially different, versed candidate."
Late last year, in his final weeks as governor, Perry invited hundreds of major Republican donors to the Governor's Mansion in Austin for a series of intimate dinners and lunches, where he showcased his economic record as governor and made his pitch as a potential presidential candidate. He also held day-long tutorial sessions with leading conservative scholars and former government officials. And Perry has been making numerous campaign-style trips to Iowa and other early voting states.
Tom McKernan, an automobile executive who served as Perry's California state finance co-chairman going into the 2012 primaries before becoming a major Romney donor in the general election, is among those on board with a possible Perry 2.0 campaign.
“Nobody worked harder in 2014 to help elect conservatives to Congress and state legislatures across the country than Gov. Perry,” McKernan said. “I look forward to helping him stay connected with business and grassroots leaders who he built strong relationships with in the last election cycle and continuing that momentum through 2016 by focusing on our shared principles."
Another donor on the advisory board, Moshe Azoulay, a property investor who founded a major clothing manufacturer, said: “I am proud to join the RickPAC Advisory Board and look forward to working with Gov. Perry to promote the 'Texas model' to the rest of the country. America needs leaders dedicated to job creation and expanding opportunity, which is exactly what Texas did by creating almost one-third of all new private sector jobs during Gov. Perry’s leadership.”
Perry's advisory board also includes a few figures known outside of politics, such as Cody Campbell, a retired NFL player for the Indianapolis Colts; Brad Thor, author of several New York Times best-selling books, including "The Lions of Lucerne," a spy thriller; and Steve Cortes, a trading and investment consultant who appears regularly on CNBC.
A challenge for Perry, as for other candidates, will be deepening his fundraising base outside of his home state.
In Perry's 2012 presidential campaign, Texas was his main fundraising base. Of the $20 million he raised, 59 percent was donated by Texans, according to campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. After Texas, the state that shelled out the most money for Perry was California, whose residents gave nearly $1.6 million. Floridians were third, ponying up $747,000.
Many Texas donors, some of whom have given $400,000 or more to Perry's campaigns over the years, remain in his camp. They include L. Lowry Mays, a billionaire co-founder of Clear Channel; B. J. "Red" McCombs, another billionaire who co-founded Clear Channel, among other businesses, and formerly owned three professional sports teams; Charlie Amato, a finance executive and part owner of the San Antonio Spurs; Larry Anders, another chief executive of a financial services firm; Morris Foster, a retired ExxonMobil executive; former Texas secretary of state John Steen; Kelcy Warren, a billionaire energy executive; and Robert Albritton, a railroad executive.
Some of the biggest names on Perry's new list of PAC supporters are from California, including Fleischman, Manchester and McKernan, as well as Jamie McCourt, an investor and former co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers; and Steve Layton, president of E&B Natural Resources.
Matea Gold contributed to this report. This story first appeared in The Washington Post.
The full list of Rick PAC's advisory committee is here:
Larry K. and Nesa Anders
Roy W. Bailey
Dr. Robert Behar
Jim Blair and Nelda Luce Blair
Rick L. Campbell
Tara and Cody Campbell
Blake E. Christian
John Paul DeJoria
Dr. Jeffrey Feingold
Dr. John Gill
Joy Ann and Bob Havran
Dr. Randy Hickle
J L Holloway
Dan Allen Hughes
Shalia and Monty Lankford
Dr. Jim and Cecelia Leininger
Steven P. Mach
Papa Doug and Geniya Manchester
L. Lowry Mays
Drayton McLane, Jr.
S. Reed Morian
Robert E. Murray
Dana and Gene Powell
David L Roberts DDS
Bill and Gay Scott
Weisie and John Steen
John D. Steinmetz
Frank A. Visco
Herb D. Weitzman and Donna Arp Weitzman
R. Graham Whaling
Welcome Wilson Jr.
Welcome Wilson Sr.
Disclosure: Red McCombs, Doug Pitcock and John Schweitzer are donors to The Texas Tribune. John Paul DeJoria is a donor to the Tribune through his foundation, JP's Peace, Love & Happiness Foundation. A complete list of Texas Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.