Bush bundlers boost pro-Gillespie super PAC

Senate candidate's finance team co-chairman also among bankrollers

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A super PAC created to support Republican Ed Gillespie in Virginia's U.S. Senate race isn't yet a fundraising juggernaut — but its latest batch of donors boast elite political pedigrees.

Two former campaign bundlers for President George W. Bush — Howard Leach and Nicholas Taubman — each contributed $25,000 in April to the super PAC, known as the We Can Do Better PAC, according to documents filed today with the Federal Election Commission.

Leach, a businessman and investor, raised at least $100,000 for Bush's 2000 presidential campaign, according to Texans for Public Justice. In 2001, Bush selected Leach as U.S. ambassador to France, where he served until April 2005.

Meanwhile, Taubman, the former president and CEO of Advance Auto Parts, raised at least $100,000 for Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, according to Texans for Public Justice. Bush tapped Taubman to be the U.S. ambassador to Romania, where he served from December 2005 through December 2008.

Additionally, the pro-Gillespie We Can Do Better PAC scored $15,000 in April from Virginia businessman William H. Goodwin Jr., who is co-chairman of the Gillespie campaign's finance committee.

We Can Do Better PAC launched in January. Since then, it has raised $140,000, according to FEC records, including $65,000 during the second quarter.

Comparatively, several super PACs — both liberal and conservative in their leanings — have already raised into the tens of millions of dollars this election cycle.

The pro-Gillespie group's treasurer is attorney Michael G. Adams, who also serves as counsel to the Republican Governors Association and Republican Attorneys General Association. Paul Bennecke, a Georgia-based political consultant, also serves an adviser to the We Can Do Better PAC, according to the National Journal.

Neither Adams nor Bennecke immediately responded to requests for comment from the Center for Public Integrity.

While Virginia is widely viewed as a swing state, incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Warner is currently favored by political observers to win re-election.

Through mid-May, Warner's campaign had raised about $8.7 million, while Gillespie's had raised about $3 million.

For his part, Gillespie previously served as the chairman of the Republican National Committee and as an adviser in the White House to President George W. Bush.

Along with GOP strategist Karl Rove, Gillespie also helped found the super PAC behemoth American Crossroads, which, to date, has not aired advertisements in Virginia's Senate contest.