Washington — Gov. Bobby Jindal has amassed more than $9 million to support his long-shot run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, his aides said Wednesday — an amount that should enable him to make his case to voters in at least the early stages of the campaign, even if it’s far short of the totals raised by some of his leading rivals, according to experienced political operatives.
“Under the current fundraising rules, $9 million is table stakes,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California and a veteran of four Republican presidential campaigns. “It gives him a chance to have his voice heard but probably not to out-shout most of the other candidates.”
Joe Trippi, who has worked on Democratic presidential campaigns from Teddy Kennedy to John Edwards, said Jindal “is on a path that is more than enough to be competitive in the early states. He needs to keep that pace up, but he can be competitive at this rate — and easily so.”
Most of Jindal’s money — more than $8.6 million — has been raised by groups outside his official campaign committee. Those groups, which include the Believe Again super PAC, the American Future Project and the America Next “social welfare” nonprofit — cannot directly coordinate their activities with the Jindal campaign but may make independent expenditures to support him. Those groups are operated by people with close connections to the campaign.
Believe Again, for example, has sponsored town hall meetings with voters for Jindal in Iowa, home to the Feb. 1 caucuses that kick off the the nomination process, and also paid for political advertising there.
Jindal officially announced his candidacy June 24 in Kenner, and his campaign committee was set up then. It was required to file a report Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission for the three-month period ending June 30. In Jindal’s case, the report captured his fundraising activity since he formed an exploratory committee in mid-May and began accepting donations.
That committee raised nearly $580,000 in that time period, according to the FEC filing. Campaign committee donations are limited to $2,700 each from individuals and $5,000 each from political action committees; corporations and labor unions may not make contributions. The committee spent a little more than $65,000.
The pro-Jindal Believe Again super PAC took in $3.7 million from when it was created in January through June 30, PAC aide Brad Todd said. American Future Project, organized later, raised $1 million by June 30, he said. Believe Again and American Future Project must file reports by July 31 detailing contributions, which are not subject to limits on size or source.
America Next, a so-called “dark money” group organized in 2013, need not disclose its donors; it cannot devote more than half its activities to political efforts, but that requirement is vague and not vigorously enforced. It files on a different schedule.
America Next and its website have functioned as a platform for Jindal’s policy proposals. Todd said it has raised nearly $4 million since its inception.
Federal court decisions since 2010 have legalized the unlimited spending by outside groups on behalf of candidates and unlimited contributions to the groups. Other Republican candidates have benefited from super PACs and dark-money groups, as well, with several raising amounts that dwarf Jindal’s collections.
Because the official fundraising documents by the outside groups have not yet been filed, accurate comparisons are difficult to make. But based on information provided by the campaigns and published by The Associated Press and USA Today, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has raised $103 million from outside groups and $11.4 million for his campaign committee, for a total of $114.4 million; U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, has brought in $37 million from outside groups and $14.2 million for his campaign, for a total of $51.2 million; U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, has generated $31.8 million in outside money and $12 million for his campaign, for a total of $43.8 million; and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has raised $16.8 million (through July 10) via super PACs and $1.1 million for his campaign committee, for a total of $17.9 million.
In addition, according to the published data, a super PAC has raised $11 million to support New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who announced his candidacy after Jindal and will not file a campaign committee report until October, and outside groups have raised $11.5 million for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is expected to declare later this month that he is a candidate.
CNN has reported that outside groups have raised $8 million for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, to go with $2 million contributed to his campaign.
Although the mix of campaign committee and outside funding has not been specified, published accounts also have reported $10.5 million in backing for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and $7 million for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky.
Except for Christie and Kasich, all those candidates declared before Jindal, giving them more time to raise money for their campaign committees. And all of them rank ahead of Jindal in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls over the past month, except for Kasich, who is tied with Jindal at 1.4 percent.
The FEC filing by Jindal’s campaign committee showed that although it received donations from 31 states, 78.6 percent of the total ($468,949.37) came from Louisiana. The next closest home for contributors by state was Texas, with $21,750.
Almost one in every four dollars (23.9 percent, or $142,562.57) came from donors living in Jindal’s hometown of Baton Rouge.
The Madden family, which is linked to the Madden Contracting Co., of Minden, gave $16,200.
Nine of the 15 appointed members of the LSU Board of Supervisors and their families donated a total of $43,200 to the campaign.
In addition, several long-active contributors to conservative causes and Republican candidates in Louisiana gave Jindal money, including the Bollinger and Chouest families, who build boats in the Bayou Lafourche communities; New Orleans banker and developer Joseph Canizaro and members of his family; Lake Charles oilman William Doré and members of his family; Richard Zuzchlag, of Acadian Ambulance, and members of his family; and Baton Rouge businessman Richard Lipsey and members of his family.
Former Louisiana Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston also contributed; now a Washington lobbyist, Livingston is chairman of the Believe Again super PAC.
Several former Jindal aides contributed, including Frank Opelka, Jimmy Faircloth, Paul Rainwater and Nial Patel.
Also contributing were former Louisiana House Speaker Charles Dewitt, of Alexandria; Phyllis Taylor, whose husband founded the TOPS program that pays college tuition for qualified students; Jim Nickel, former director of the Louisiana Democratic Party and now a prominent lobbyist; Randal Johnson, the lobbyist who was a close aide to the late Bob Odom, the Democratic Party kingmaker and state agriculture commissioner for decades; and state Rep. Gordon Dove, R-Houma.
A key for Jindal to persevere in the campaign will be his ability to expand his donor list beyond longtime associates and Louisiana political and business figures.
Also filing Wednesday were Republican U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany, of Lafayette, and John Fleming, of Minden, who reported donations to their House re-election committees. Both have said they are interested in the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican David Vitter, who is running for governor this fall. Should Vitter win and leave the Senate, Boustany and Fleming could apply their House campaign funds to the 2016 Senate race.
Boustany, a surgeon, reported raising $708,000 during the April-June reporting period, giving him $1.1 million in cash on hand. Fleming, a physician and businessman who is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, reported $216,000 in contributions for the period and a $525,000 personal loan to his campaign, leaving him with $2.08 million on hand.
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