Election 2012

Libertarian Super PAC Appeals To Mainstream, Radical LPers

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NEW YORK – As Election Day nears, the head of the Libertarian Action Super PAC, Wes Benedict, remains optimistic that an extremely wealthy benefactor will enrich Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson's coffers.

"We're putting these programs out there so donors can quickly see where their money goes if they contribute," Benedict said during a phone interview. "That's one of our strategies to show what we're doing, have a billionaire come out of the woodwork and fund it. These are scalable things. If you robocall a half-million people it's easy to robocall twenty million people," 

Benedict, the former head of the Texas Libertarian Party, has been working off $100,000 in seed money from Joe Lamont, the CEO of Trilogy. Since his initial donation, the Super PAC has raised about $20,000 according to Benedict.

The Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling and the Super PAC system it birthed was a boon to candidates who struggled financially in the Republican primary. It's hard to see how candidates like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich would have lasted as long as they did without the backing of Super PACs with wealthy benefactors. Even libertarian darling Ron Paul got in on the act with the Revolution Super PAC that was largely funded by PayPal founder Peter Thiel.

"If the billionaires want to participate they can; I wish they would. We're putting an opportunity together for them," Benedict said.

Benedict's Super PAC is focused on empowering Libertarian activists with cheap materials for GOTV operations as well as basic campaign staples like yard signs and bumperstickers. LASPAC, as it is known, has made doorknockers that appeal to both mainline and radical libertarians.

One doorknocker features a more traditional GOTV appeal of "Have Republicans and Democrats let you down?" The other, more radical doorknocker, was more blunt. "Republicans and Democrats ­suck."

When asked about the more radical one Johnson laughed and said, "It's to the point. They both suck."

Benedict downplayed the doorknockers, which cannot be found on his website, as provocative but harmless.

"I like it because it's memorable, people start talking about it, whether they like it or not. When I showed it to the printer they kind of laugh out loud. The more traditional one, people have overwhelmingly chosen more than the provocative one," he said.

LASPAC is expanding its activities beyond typical campaign materials with the filming of pro-Johnson ads and expected robocalls in swing states like Ohio. They recently finished shooting ads featuring former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura that they hope to run on television stations around the country. A postcard direct mail campaign is in the works, too.

"Ohio is looking like a swing state and we want Gary Johnson to be right there in the middle, and we are trying to raise $20,000 to robocall a half-million swing voters," said Benedict.

Benedict will be happy with Johnson pulling down 600,000 votes because it would be more than the 2008 ticket. The goal, though, is to top the 1980 ticket of Ed Clark and David Koch. Ralph Nader is not around to siphon off the majority of protest votes, as he was in previous elections. Benedict is cautiously optimistic.

"Under 600,000 would be disappointing given that's there are no other third party candidates on the ballot," he said.