Campaign finance lawyer Charlie Spies, who set up both Bush’s super PAC and leadership PAC, is expected to serve as counsel to the super PAC once Bush announces his campaign, said these Republicans, who requested anonymity because the discussions are sensitive and not yet final.
Mike Murphy, Bush's longtime strategist who has been helping the former Florida governor staff up his political operation and shape his economic opportunity message, is considering leading the outside super PAC. He has not yet made a decision about whether to work for the super PAC or serve on Bush's official campaign as a strategist, the Republican sources said. The New York Times first reported the possibility of Murphy working for the super PAC.
For political consultants, working for the super PAC can be lucrative. Bush has been aggressively recruiting donors for the group, which legally can raise unlimited funds and is poised to have hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on television advertisements and other activities.
Since Bush is not yet a federal candidate or officeholder, he is permitted to be involved with the super PAC for now and his advisers are currently overseeing the operations of both Bush political committees. Once he makes his bid official, however, the political team will have to split and the lines of demarcation between the campaign and super PAC staffs must be clear.
Bush can still have contact with the super PAC and take part in fundraising events, but he and his aides cannot share any campaign strategy that the independent group could use to inform its spending decisions. Any campaign staffers who later decide to join the super PAC would have to sit out for a 120-day cooling-off period before doing so. However, there is no such restriction on super PAC staff moving over to a campaign; they could do so immediately.
Sources said the Bush super PAC staffing discussions are only preliminary and that no final assignments have been made. But with Murphy, McCarthy, Newhouse and Spies aboard, the super PAC would have a wealth of presidential campaign and super PAC experience.
Newhouse has a long association with Bush, serving as his pollster during his Florida gubernatorial campaigns. A partner and co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies, Newhouse was the lead pollster for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign and was involved in six winning Senate races in 2014. Newhouse is highly regarded by Republicans, although he drew scrutiny for internal polls on the Romney campaign that projected a rosier picture than public polling and led the campaign and its donors to believe Romney would defeat President Obama.
McCarthy has been a leading Republican media strategist for decades and has considerable experience navigating the super PAC world. In 2012, he made ads for Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney super PAC, as well as American Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity. Last year, he served as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's successful reelection campaign.
Spies is a well-known GOP lawyer who co-founded Restore Our Future, which brought in more than $150 million in the 2012 cycle. Spies previously served as chief financial officer and counsel for Romney's 2008 presidential campaign and has provided counsel to the Republican National Committee and the Republican Governors Association.
Murphy worked on John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign as well as the gubernatorial campaigns of California's Arnold Schwarzenegger and others. Murphy, who lives in Los Angeles, is a partner of the media firm Revolution Agency and has been an adviser to corporate and political clients.