The ghost of Rick Perry’s presidential campaign may haunt his erstwhile rivals for the Republican nomination.
Though the former Texas governor folded amid fundraising turmoil, supporters running a well-funded super PAC supporting his candidacy are considering whether there’s an outlet for as much as $13 million they had in the bank when Perry dropped out.
The son of one top donor to the PAC, Doug Deason, said his father – tech magnate Darwin Deason -- anticipates that contributions will be returned and the committee, dubbed the Opportunity and Freedom PAC, will shutter. But Austin Barbour, a senior member of the PAC’s leadership, said he’s still discussing options with the group’s lawyers.
“I think it is fair to say that we don’t yet have a full understanding of what the law allows for,” Barbour said in an email. “Once we understand that we can talk with our donors about options.”
But Deason, whose father contributed $5 million to the super PAC, said Barbour was just being cautious.
“We have made it clear we expect the PAC to shut down and send the funds back,” he said. “Austin is just being cautious to make sure it is all done properly and legally. We appreciate that he is.”
Asked about his family’s involvement in a Republican nomination fight without Perry, Deason added, “We are going to sit back and let things shake out a bit before we choose another candidate.”
The remnants of Perry's super PAC present a relatively untested phenomenon in presidential politics. Super PACs -- which emerged after the 2010 Supreme Court Citizen's United decision -- are forbidden from coordinating with presidential campaigns, but few have been left with such significant sums on hand after their favored candidate has dropped out. Perry's 2012 presidential campaign tangled with the FECthat year over whether his campaign could deliver its remaining funds to a super PAC or his gubernatorial reelection campaign.