This story has been updated.
Matthew Pagano might have found the perfect summer job. It helped to have the right resume: Pagano, 27, got his start at Young Americans for Liberty in central Florida. He left that organization, founded by former Texas congressman Ron Paul, to join Paul's presidential campaign. From there he moved from campaign to campaign, part of a generation of libertarian-minded politicos inspired by Paul and his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). And last month, Pagano became one of 40 full-time organizers in Iowa, working to elect Paul, for $4000 per month.
But Pagano's job isn't with the Paul campaign. It's with Concerned American Voters, a super PAC recently refurbished by YAL president Jeff Frazee and former FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe, with the explicit goal of winning Iowa for Paul. On Wednesday, the super PAC will announce that it raised $2 million in just a month of existence, despite some static with Paul's preferred America's Liberty PAC. Organizers like Pagano are trying to build a powerful network even before the Paul campaign can execute its plans.
"The main thing is build up a list of defined Rand supporters, and to gather ID on Republicans for the caucuses," Pagano said. "It's a campaign job. You put in 10-hour days, seven days a week. I've been everywhere from Orange City to the Missouri border."
The strategy of Concerned American Voters -- and its complication for the main Paul campaign -- was borne out in this month's FEC reports. While the super PAC cannot coordinate with Paul, it could in theory communicate with America's Liberty PAC. There had been hope of jointly releasing the AL and CAV numbers this week, to reveal a total of $5.1 million in outside money for Paul. Instead, CAV's totals are coming after a spate of negative stories based on what National Journal called "the smallest sum of the 10 Republican super PACs to reveal their fundraising figures so far."
Concerned American Voters is trying to open the wallets of donors who might find those stories... well, concerning. Its FEC report will reveal a donation from Silicon Valley angel investor Scott Banister. Whole Foods founder John Mackey has also reportedly chipped in. Donors are told that Concerned American Voters will avoid any media spending, and use tactics pioneered by insurgent Republican campaigns to wire Iowa in advance of the caucuses. They also assure donors that they will not waste effort on contacting voters already won over by the Paul campaign.
"There’s no such thing as too much grassroots," said Kibbe. "When I was in Nevada for [the annual libertarian conference] Freedomfest I was literally inundated by activists who wanted to help Rand. I’m not getting any concerns that Rand isn’t worth investing in. I think they want to see the roadmap to victory, and Rand is a great field test for the new rules of politics. The old rules were about name ID, about how much money you could raise for establishment bundlers. Insurgent candidates don't need all of that."
The official Paul campaign had not really celebrated the launch of Concerned American Voters. One more super PAC looked, on the surface, like one more place for donors to park money outside of the preferred Paul network. That was before the aligned campaigns for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), who also have Iowa in their sights, raised significantly more money. The rebel PAC is now promising to out-organize everyone in the state, with other change to Paul's strategy or messaging. In the last weeks, the ice between official Paulworld and alternative Paulworld has thawed.
"Matt Kibbe and Jeff Frazee have a proven track record in grassroots activism," Paul said in a statement Wednesday. "I have known them both for many years and have always been impressed with their work and their enthusiasm for shared message. Their organization, along with others already working on the outside, will be a great asset in delivering the message of liberty on the ground and online."
Correction: This post originally incorrectly attributed Paul's statement to spokesman Sergio Gor.