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By Mark Halperin, Bloomberg News (TNS)

Ted Cruz’s presidential effort is getting into the shock-and-awe fundraising business.

An associate of the Texas senator, a recently announced presidential candidate, tells Bloomberg that a cluster of affiliated super-political action committees was formed only this week, and among them they are expected to have $31 million in the bank by Friday.

Even in the context of a presidential campaign cycle in which the major party nominees are expected to raise more than $1.5 billion, Cruz’s haul is eye-popping, one that instantly raises the stakes in the Republican fundraising contest.

Although super PACs have radically changed the pace at which committees backing presidential candidates can raise money, the Cruz haul is remarkable. There are no known cases in which an operation backing a White House hopeful has collected this much money in less than a week.

Those involved in the Cruz super PACS say many of his biggest financial backers haven’t yet made contributions to the new organizations and are expected to do so in the coming months. By law, super PACS can accept unlimited contributions from individuals.

From his time as a Senate candidate in 2012, Cruz has been one of the country’s most aggressive and successful super PAC fundraisers. His political team has calculated from the start of their planning for a presidential campaign that his overall operation would be able to keep pace with rivals in part because of a robust super PAC operation. They have talked among themselves about the names of numerous wealthy Cruz backers who they fully expect will contribute several million dollars each.

Still, even some Cruz supporters, and many others who have been skeptical that his candidacy could draw significant financial support, are certain to be stunned by this initial round of contributions.

While former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is universally expected to easily lead all other Republican presidential candidates in financial backing, a hotly debated topic in political circles has been who would finish second to Bush in money raised by the end of 2015. This week’s apparent lightning strike could help Cruz claim that spot, possibly besting other leading prospects such as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Cruz’s campaign is also expected to raise money competitively at the grassroots level through the Internet and small-dollar contributions, as well as through traditional bundling of so-called hard dollar checks, which are subject to limits of $2,700 per election per individual. Either of those methods, of course, would require significantly more than a week to generate $31 million.

According to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission, the treasurer for the cluster of new super PACS is Dathan Voelter, an Austin, Texas, attorney who is a longtime friend and financial backer of Cruz. All three PACS have a variant of the name “Keep the Promise.”

A document prepared by the super PAC organizers says they “are committed to raising the resources necessary to promote Senator Cruz in his efforts to win the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.” The document quotes Voelter as saying, “We’re just getting started … Our goal is to guarantee Senator Cruz can compete against any candidate. Supporters of the Senator now have a powerful vehicle with the resources necessary to aid in his effort to secure the Republican nomination and win back the White House.” The document describes those “leading the financial charge” as “a group of close, personal friends of Senator Cruz, who share his conservative vision for America.”

According to the source close to Cruz, more than $20 million of the $31 million is expected by Wednesday, with the rest due in by the end of the week. Those cash figures could not be independently confirmed by Bloomberg, and sources declined to provide financial documents to support the claim.

The group does not plan to reveal the names or number of donors until they are legally required to do so, at the end of the FEC reporting period on July 15.

According to a person familiar with the workings and financing of the new super-PACs, many of the donors are former backers of George W. Bush and Perry. Bush’s brother, of course, and Perry himself, are seeking the White House now, which makes Cruz’s coup that much more impressive. A Houston-area associate of Cruz’s has led the effort to pull together the donors, many of whom are Texans and New Yorkers.

The PAC names are “Keep the Promise,” “Keep the Promise II,” and “Keep the Promise III.” An internal document describing the groups’ intentions says, “Every PAC in the Keep the Promise network will fully comply with all disclosure and record keeping obligations set forth in federal law. The use of multiple PACS, however, will allow Keep the Promise to uniquely and flexibly tailor its activities in support of Senator Cruz and afford donors greater control over PAC operations.”

In a cover letter dated April 6, sent to the FEC along with the formal filings for the three super-PAC entities, Voelter says that the trio “are affiliated with one another for legal and regulatory purposes.” It lists an Austin post office box as their shared address, and the Fifth Third Bank in Atlanta as the place where funds are being deposited.
Voelter declined to comment.

The document from the group says that “Keep the Promise can provide the ‘appropriate air cover’ in the battle against Senator Cruz’s opponents in the Washington establishment and on the political left. We plan to support the effort of millions of courageous conservatives who believe 2016 is our last opportunity to ‘keep the promise’ of America for future generations.”

(c)2015 Bloomberg News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks at the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, in National Harbor, Md. Cruz announced his presidential bid Monday. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

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