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New pro-Rick Perry super PAC consolidates support

at 03:19 PM ET, 08/11/2011


Texas Governor Rick Perry visits with some of the Texas Sheriffs that stood with during the Sheriff's Association of Texas on Monday, July 26, 2010, in Fort Worth, Texas. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley) (Paul Moseley - STAR-TELEGRAM/PAUL MOSELEY)
A new independent group billing itself as the top super PAC supporting Rick Perry’s nearing presidential campaign is consolidating top supporters of the Texas governor and getting its effort off the ground.

The Make Us Great Again super PAC is bringing in top Texas fundraisers Elizabeth Blakemore and Cynthia Wiedemann, who had previously been working with another pro-Perry super PAC, Americans for Rick Perry.

It will hold its first fundraisers next week in Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth and should be airing its first ad “soon,” according to a source at the PAC.

The moves by Perry supporters comes as the Texas governor plans to signal his intention to run for president after visiting New Hampshire and South Carolina this weekend. Though he won’t participate in the Ames Straw poll with his soon-to-be GOP rivals on Saturday, Perry will crash the party when he speaks to Republicans in Waterloo Sunday.

The Make Us Great Again effort has signed up a team of prominent consultants, including Sacramento-based fundraiser Tony Russo, legal counsel Cleta Mitchell and the GOP advertising firm Jamestown Associates. It has also added staff that includes executive director Scott Rials and senior adviser Barry Bennett, who are both close to top Perry adviser David Carney.

The group surfaced this week in an e-mail from former Perry chief of staff Mike Toomey and supporter Brint Ryan, who will work with Russo to lead the fundraising operation. It is one of seven super PACs that have been launched on behalf of Perry’s not-yet-announced presidential campaign so far, but organizers say they expect this one to easily be the biggest.

The e-mail from Toomey to potential donors that went public earlier this week quoted Toomey as saying donors should “avoid any other group claiming to be ‘the’ pro-Perry independent effort.”

Another former Perry aide, Dan Shelley, has launched two super PACs – Veterans for Rick Perry and the Jobs for Vets Fund. Americans for Rick Perry, which Blakemore and Wiedemann had been involved in, has been active early in Iowa.

The new effort aims to be the second major super PAC supporting a top GOP presidential campaign. Former Massaschusetts governor Mitt Romney’s supporters have also formed a super PAC, Restore Our Future, which raised $12 million in the first half of 2012.

Super PACs, which were created after the Supreme Court case often referred to as Citizens United, can raise and spend money in unlimited amounts and can accept unlimited donations, allowing for wealthy donors to contribute upwards of millions of dollars to the cause of their preferred candidate.

At the same time, they cannot coordinate with the candidates themselves.

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