AUSTIN (KXAN) - Dozens of potential donors will dine with Gov. Rick Perry Tuesday night in Austin to talk fundraising for a possible presidential run. It boils down to whether the governor can collect enough money to effectively challenge the announced GOP candidates.
Sources said the crowd will first meet in smaller groups before joining Perry and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott later in the evening. Insiders have suggested that it could cost anywhere from $100 million to $250 million to with the GOP nomination.
"Whether I make the decision to run for the president of the United States or whether I decide to stay in Texas and keep what is sometimes referred to as the greatest job in America," Perry told reporters on Monday, "I'm going through an appropriate, thoughtful process, and you'll be some of the first to know when I make a final decision."
Although statewide campaign funds cannot be used in a federal race, his recent efforts as governor might be a good indication of the success he could see in a presidential race. Check out the observations we made from his latest campaign finance report submitted last week to the Texas Ethics Commission.
Because of campaign finance rules not allowing statewide candidates or office holders to raise funds during the regular legislative session (which made up the first five months of the year), Perry was only able to receive money in June. However, he was still able gain more than $392,500 during that brief time.
When looking at the number of donors, about one-third came from out-of-state, which could give an indication of how the Texan might fare in collecting money in a future federal race. Those include donors from: Wyoming; Wisconsin; Virginia; South Carolina; Pennsylvania; Oregon; New York; New Jersey; Missouri; Michigan; Maryland; Iowa; Georgia; Florida; Washington, D.C.; Colorado; and California.
Still, large sums – ranging from $2,000-$150,000 – made up the bulk of his state campaign money – something that would not be allowed if he runs for president.
Texas has no limit on how much donors can give to a candidate for state office. But federal election rules limit individual donors to $2,500 and political action committees to $5,000 per candidate.
There are a few ways to work around those limits. The first involves something known as bundling, where donors can work to gather a mass of individual checks from friends and other supporters to give directly to a campaign.
The second is a Super PAC, where supporters of a federal candidate can raise a large sum of money but not donate directly to the campaign – instead acting independently to bolster their candidate's chances.
In the fundraising department, Perry would start out well behind several already-declared contenders who have been raising money for quite some time. The top five candidates have the following on hand, as of June 30:
- Mitt Romney $18,383,257
- Michele Bachmann $7,976,620
- Tim Pawlenty $4,495,761
- Herman Cain $2,580,726
- Newt Gingrich $2,102,916
As for Perry, he has used a significant amount - nearly $970,000 - of his state campaign money, which is available to an office holder for political purposes or in his role as governor – to travel out-of-state for events over the past six months. Those opportunities could have set him up with potential donors for a future federal race, courting the possibility of money after-the-fact if he decides to run.
Check out Perry's out-of-state travel itinerary over the past six months on Josh's Political Blog.
"He's not guilty or violating the law, but it raises some serious questions," said Fred Lewis, an Austin attorney and campaign finance expert. "It might not be completely related to him being the governor or his state campaign."
Lewis said the law is clear that statewide campaign funds cannot be used in a federal race. He questioned Monday's dinner in Austin with potential donors, wondering if the event blurred the line between what is allowed and what is not.
Perry's office did not have an answer fon Monday about who would be paying for the dinner and related events. A spokesperson said they would "find out" the answer.
The University of Texas Board of Regents adjourned Thursday without taking action on the job status of embattled UT President Bill Powers.
Longhorns coach Mack Brown talked with reporters Thursday for the first time since reports surfaced this week that he could be stepping down.
Two men were arrested and a third was being sought by police for the shooting death of 47-year-old Russell Martens.
After two hours of discussion regarding the final design for Auditorium Shores, the Austin City Council decided to approve the design on a vote of 7-0 with amendments.
Despite what seemed like a surge of controversies, the Austin Aquarium opened its doors to members Thursday for a private pre-entry showing.
One person was killed Thursday in a rollover crash near Cedar Creek, the Bastrop County Sheriff's Office said.