WASHINGTON – As Jeb Bush stockpiles a political fund for his presidential campaign-in-waiting, his finance committee has given $122,800 to Republican officials and state parties in the first five weeks of its existence. It’s an indication of the tactical focus and tenacity with which the former Florida governor is approaching both giving and receiving in the early days of the 2016 season.
Bush’s committee, Right to Rise PAC, Inc., has given to 14 candidates and five parties, sprinkling donations through states with the earliest presidential primaries and supporting elected officials who face re-election in 2016.
“I’m proud to support great conservative candidates who are committed to renewing America’s promise,” Bush said in a statement.
Bush allies are aiming to collect $100 million in the coming months through his political committee and a companion super-PAC that bears the same name. The suggested donation was $100,000 at an event Bush attended in New York last Wednesday, and the same for another in Chicago this week. During a visit to Washington last month, Bush’s team asked supporters to commit to raising as much as $500,000.
Bush’s committee is transferring as much as it legally can to each candidate and state party he’s chosen to support: $5,200 to individuals and $10,000 to the parties.
Outstripping his rivals
Bush’s total donations after a little more than a month compare favorably to what other GOP presidential aspirants gave during the entire 2014 election cycle. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican weighing a White House bid, used his PAC to give candidates and committees $143,200 over the course of the two full years of 2013 and 2014, more than Marco Rubio, Rand Paul or Rick Perry, according to campaign finance reports.
Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell declined to say how much the Right to Rise committees have collected since they were created Jan. 6. The super-PAC can accept donations of unlimited size. Those committees aren’t required to file public reports until July.
Since opening his committees, Bush has been on a torrid fundraising pace — including 60 events in the final 70 days of the first quarter — as his team attempts to send an intimidating signal to the rest of the potential presidential field.
Bush’s cash chase takes him to Washington on Tuesday. He’ll speak to about 150 people who have paid $1,000 or more for a luncheon just blocks from the White House at a lobbying firm’s office. At least 40 people attending have signed on as “cosponsors” of the event, promising to write $5,000 checks or raise $10,000. Bush will then head to McLean, Va., for a dinner at the home of attorney Jamie Wareham. That event costs $5,000 per couple.
Bush supporters are also moving quickly to sign up Mitt Romney’s fundraising team, now that the party’s 2012 nominee has declined a third bid for the White House. They’ve locked up half of Romney’s top New York bundlers.
Muneer Satter, chairman of Romney’s fundraising efforts in Illinois in 2012, is now raising money for Bush. He’s a co-chairman of a Chicago area fundraiser later this month where attendees are being asked to raise up to $250,000, or give $100,000.
Rubio, the U.S. senator from Florida, collected $3.91 million during 2013-14 with his political action committee, Reclaim America, and donated $111,800 of it to other candidates and party committees.
Reinventing a New Direction, the committee tied to Paul, a senator from Kentucky, collected $3.32 million and gave $115,300 to Republicans during the same period.
Cruz gave $143,200 to other candidates and party committees through his political action committee, Jobs, Growth and Freedom Fund, which collected $1.5 million.
Perry, a former Texas governor, distributed $32,900 of the $307,200 that RickPAC collected in the past two years. Perry’s donations were exclusively to candidates and state parties in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the three states with the earliest nominating contests.