Third Rand Paul-Supporting SuperPAC Arises, Run by Cato Institute Co-Founder Ed Crane

Also in Paul money news: Behind in big bucks, Paul likely won't attend big weekend meeting of Koch-associated funders


I noted last week the disappointing take of the two prominent SuperPACS dedicated to promoting Rand Paul for president, with his SuperPAC total lagging behind nearly every other GOP candidate's.

This week the pre-existing Purple PAC (which supported Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis of Virginia back in 2013) also came out for Rand Paul.

From an Associated Press report:

"There are some very wealthy libertarians out there, and they're all going to be hearing from me," said Ed Crane, president of one of the pro-Paul super PACs, called Purple PAC. "It's a strong potential base for Rand."

Politico reports Purple PAC's total pull so far as $1.2 million, from just four donors.

That expansion in PACs does not appreciably expand the actual number of megarich people spending big for Rand, since $1 million of Purple PAC's cash came from Jeff Yass (of Susquehanna Partners, a trading firm), the same Yass who also gave a million to an earlier Paul PAC, America's Liberty. That one, the first in the Paul super PAC field, is run by former Ron Paul campaign chieftain (and husband of one of Rand's nieces) Jesse Benton. 

Purple PAC's Crane has a long history with both libertarian advocacy and politics. He co-founded the Cato Institute and ran it from its 1977 founding until 2012, after a prominent and nasty fight with other co-founder Charles Koch.

Crane was also a major player in two Libertarian Party presidential campaigns in 1976 and 1980. (Crane and his impact are discussed at length in my 2007 history of the American libertarian movement, Radicals for Capitalism.) Crane has largely eschewed public support for specific candidates since.

Politico reports today that Paul was invited to, but likely won't show up at, a confab sponsored by an umbrella group for Koch brothers' political philanthropy, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce. Some wonder at the wisdom of Paul declining to make a case for himself in front of what is surely one of the biggest concentrations of GOP moneybags accessible. Still:

Paul has not ruled out an appearance, said his campaign spokesman Sergio Gor. But he added "it will be difficult due to trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, the first GOP debate in Cleveland and the U.S. Senate being in session all during the same week."

Gor suggested that Paul's relationship with the Kochs and some of their top donors transcends the seminars. Paul "regularly works with both Charles and David Koch directly," Gor said. He cited his boss's support from active Koch network donors, including New Jersey businesswoman Frayda Levin, and he pointed out that Paul participates in events with Koch-backed groups, including Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Veterans for America, which is hosting an event featuring Paul in South Carolina this week.

Associated Press sums up what Purple PAC's entrance into the funding fray means for total Rand Paul money so far, five months ahead of voting:

Three super PACS supporting the libertarian-leaning Kentucky senator said they raised a combined $6 million through June 30. That's on top of the nearly $7 million that Paul's campaign reported pulling in between his April announcement and the end of last month.