Doug Watts communications director for Ben Carson’s presidential campaign
By Nick Corasaniti – – – –
The candidate who repeatedly says he is self-funding and decries big money in politics sure attracts a lot of “super PAC” support, as another super PAC has spawned to support Donald J. Trump’s general election campaign.
Formed by former members of Ben Carson’s campaign, former military officers, Republican strategists and businessmen, the super PAC, the Committee for American Sovereignty, is pledging to raise $20 million before the Republican National Convention in July.
In a release, the group said it would spend both on paid broadcast and digital media advertisements, as well as on field programs, voter registration programs and get out the vote operations.
“With the recent announcement that a pro-Hillary Clinton’s super PAC has already booked over $90 million in ad time in just seven states in June, it is clear we need to ramp up major donor fund-raising efforts, unify Republicans, and take on the Clinton Machine,” Doug Watts, a former Carson staff member who is serving as national executive director and spokesman for the group, said in a statement.
Mr. Watt’s is the latest Carson campaign staff member to work in support of Mr. Trump. Barry Bennett, Mr. Carson’s campaign manager, serves as an adviser to the Trump campaign, and Mr. Carson himself is a key surrogate for Mr. Trump.
The statement says the group is planning to raise significant funds from California supporters. Leading that effort will be a former California state senator, Tony Strickland, who is listed as the California chairman.
Mr. Strickland is currently facing up to $80,000 in fines from the Fair Political Practices Commission, which accused him of laundering money to a campaign fund during his run for state controller.
So far, the outside group effort surrounding the Trump campaign has been fraught at best. The initial super PAC, Make America Great Again, raised $1.7 million but hasn’t filed any reports with the Federal Election Commission since February, nor has it made any noticeable expenditure in support of Mr. Trump’s campaign.
Great America PAC, the super PAC run by veteran Tea Party activists, ran curious, low-budget-looking ads that included an 800 number seeking to raise small-dollar donations for the super PAC, not the campaign. It has also been roiled with leadership woes.
Mr. Trump has often boasted about his self-funding, and his campaign has actively sought to distance itself from the random groups that spring up to supposedly support his campaign. The Trump campaign has repeatedly had to file notices with the Federal Election Commission disavowing certain groups.
But the new group, which claims Nick Loeb and Tim Yale as major donors, also includes Nicholas Ribis Sr., the former chairman of Trump Hotel, Casino and Resorts, indicating that Mr. Trump might not be as averse to this group as to some others.