The Republican establishment wants to deny Donald Trump the Republican nomination for president, even though he’s the delegate leader, and a new TV ad wants to know if its viewers think that is wrong — right?
Well, yes, but the nationally airing ad is as much about raising money for the sponsor than it is about boosting the candidate.
“Donald Trump is the true front-runner in the presidential race,” the boisterous narrator says over a still image of Trump. “And we need you to pick up the phone and let us know your opinion.”
Dial one of the two toll-free numbers on the screen and you hear the same voice asking callers to press “1” if they agree that this is wrong. And then, the same voice asks for a donation to Great America PAC.
The ad’s sponsor
Great America PAC formed in February, but under a different name: TRUMPAC.
Great America PAC is a “hybrid” political action committee, meaning that like a super PAC, it can raise and spend in unlimited amounts to advocate for or against candidates. But it also operates as a traditional PAC, collecting limited amounts of money that is sent directly to a candidate.
Hybrid PACs were born out of the 2011 federal court case Carey v. Federal Election Commission that opened the door for such groups to exist, so long as they keep separate bank accounts for the two activities.
And the treasurer of Great America PAC is Dan Backer, the conservative attorney who helped to make hybrid PACs possible.
Who’s behind it?
Backer, a conservative lawyer, is known for winning McCutcheon v. FEC, a decision that further opened the flood gates for money flowing into elections. The decision eliminated aggregate limits for individual donors.
Also behind the group is Bill Doddridge, founder of diamond retailer The Jewelry Exchange.
Doddridge co-founded Great America PAC with tea party operative Amy Kremer. In March, they recruited Jesse Benton, a Republican operative who previously oversaw a super PAC supporting Rand Paul. Paul dropped out of the presidential race in February.
Eric Beach, also a former Paul ally, is overseeing fundraising for Great America PAC.