Money and Democracy

Published — December 6, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Pro-Perry ‘super PAC’ biggest presidential spender, Romney group looms


With a $550,692 ad buy, a group that is backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the Republican nomination for president has become the top spender among so-called presidential “super PACs” – for now, anyway.

Make Us Great Again, Inc.” has spent more than $1.47 million since its formation on July 28 but has yet to reveal its donors.

A super PAC can accept unlimited corporate and union contributions and spend the money on advertising and other expenditures to support or oppose a candidate. Prior to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in January 2010, such contributions were illegal.

Super PACs are prohibited from coordinating with the candidate, an issue that has raised questions for Make Us Great Again. The group has been linked to Perry’s former chief of staff, Mike Toomey.

Our Destiny PAC, a super PAC supporting former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., has spent a little more than $1.45 million to date. A pro-Romney group, Restore Our Future, Inc., has raised more than $12 million and is only now preparing to make its first expenditures.

Make Us Great Again lists a post office box in Washington, D.C. as its address. Its treasurer is Paul Kilgore, of Athens, Ga. Kilgore, a former aide to late Georgia Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell, runs a political financial consulting company called PDS Compliance in Athens.

He is also treasurer for ChristinePAC (a super PAC connected to failed former Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell), the leadership PAC for New Jersey Republican Rep. Scott Garrett, and the conservative Madison Project Inc., among others.

“Elites,” the new advertisement from Make Us Great, is a 30-second spot showing images of President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi with a voiceover: “Washington elites are wrecking America, destroying our way of life.” The ad is running in Iowa and South Carolina.

As the background music brightens, the voice adds “Rick Perry isn’t from Washington. His spending reforms balance the budget. His energy plan frees America from foreign oil. And his tax reforms flatten and simplify. That’s how we’ll put America back to work.”

This is the third television spot the group has produced since early November. Thus far the committee has spent at least $1,472,681, according to the Center for Responsive Politics — tops among all presidential super PACs.

Perry, while serving as governor from 2001 through 2010, raised $102.8 million, according to good-government group Texans for Public Justice. Among his top backers was Houston homebuilder Bob Perry who gave the governor more than $2.5 million.

Perry is currently running fourth in the Jan. 3 Iowa cacuses, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, trailing frontrunner Newt Gingrich, Romney and Ron Paul.

A spokesman for Make Us Great Again did not return calls from iWatch News seeking information on the group’s donors.

Federal Election Commission rules require super PACs to report their donors in regular filings. Perry supporters have also organized a nonprofit, Citizens for a Greater America, to back the candidate, as reported by iWatch News, but that organization is not required to reveal its donors.

This story has been updated.

John Dunbar contributed to this report.

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