Trusted Leadership is a super PAC supporting the 2016 presidential campaign of Ted Cruz. Trusted Leadership filed its Statement of Organization with the FEC on February 19, 2016 and stated its aim as consolidating the fundraising efforts of other pro-Cruz super PACs. The super PAC is the result of a leadership merger of four pro-Cruz super PACs: Keep the Promise PAC, Keep the Promise I, Keep the Promise III, and Keep the Promise to Veterans. According to NPR, "To end the confusion, most of the superPACs now have consolidated under Trusted Leadership, which itself is a superPAC... [Kellyanne Conway] said the alliance has made fundraising easier, as the groups solicit former donors to the pro-Bush behemoth Right To Rise and Conservative Solutions PAC, which backed Florida Senator Marco Rubio. The alliance also streamlines operations for the big push to the convention." A fifth pro-Cruz Super PAC, Keep the Promise II, operated independently of Trusted Leadership and was financed exclusively by investor Toby Neugebauer. Trusted Leadership described its purpose with the following statement:
- "Just as Republicans are coalescing in greater numbers to support Senator Cruz, the pro-Cruz Super PACs understand that together we can be more effective and efficient in promoting the candidacy of Senator Cruz. Trusted Leadership will provide a more unified effort to help elect Senator Cruz who will be a President who not only stands on the principles of the founding fathers but also has the wisdom, intelligence, tenacity, resolve and temperament to lead our great nation."
2016 Election Activity
The organization reported $1,866,891 of independent expenditures in March 2016, $442,000 opposing John Kasich and $1,424,891 supporting Cruz.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics as of June 24, 2016, Trusted Leadership had racked up a total of $4,881,851 in independent expenditures in 2016, $3,434,865 of which was on advertising and get out the vote efforts in support of Ted Cruz, $1,368,367 on media buys opposing Governor John Kasich, and $78,619 opposing Donald Trump.
Disbursements to Cruz Super PACs
Trusted Leadership continued to disburse funds to the other Pro-Cruz super PACs Keep the Promise I, Keep the Promise III, Keep the Promise PAC and Stand for Truth. The disbursements below were listed in Trusted Leadership's April monthly FEC filing covering the month of March in 2016.
- $150,000 to Stand for Truth on March 10, 2016.
- $210,963.70 total to Keep the Promise I.
- $277,300 total to Keep the Promise PAC.
- $735,000 total to Keep the Promise III.
- Sum of disbursements to pro-Cruz PACs as of April 25, 2016: $1,373,263.70
On April 22, 2016, Trusted Leadership said that it planned to spend $1.6 million hitting John Kasich in Indiana ahead of the state's May 3 primary.
The super PAC reported a $640,893 media buy in Indiana opposing John Kasich on April 21, 2016. The ad airing in Indiana first hit airwaves on April 1, 2016 in Wisconsin and was deployed in New York as well. It opened with a clip of President Barack Obama praising Kasich over expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. It cut to Laura Ingraham on The O'Reilly Factor interviewing Kasich: "BFF of Barack Obama, the governor of the Buckeye State, John Kasich... The president cited Medicaid expansion, Governor Kasich, as his big success story thus far in Obamacare..."
Trusted Leadership released an ad attacking Donald Trump in Indiana on April 30, 2016, one day before the state's primary. "The Company You Keep," part of a $375,000 ad campaign in the state, tied Trump to former professional boxer Mike Tyson, who was convicted of raping an 18 year-old woman in an Indianapolis hotel room in 1992. The ad shows a clip from an interview of Trump defending Tyson over the rape accusations while circus music plays in the background. The ad continues to show a clip of Mike Tyson endorsing Donald Trump: "I like Trump, yeah, he should be president of the United States."
Conservative champion was a 60-second radio ad that ran in March 2016. A recording of the ad is available in the video section at TrustedLeadershipPAC.com. Trusted Leadership PAC reported, "Pro-Cruz radio ads will run in OH, IL, NC and MO for a total of $435,000." The radio ad claimed that "there is no one in my generation who has done more to champion constitutional conservative causes than Ted Cruz" and praised Cruz for standing up to the Supreme Court while defending second amendment rights and U.S. sovereignty against the United Nations.
Ready on Day One
The super PAC placed a $580,000 TV ad buy, "Ready on Day One," in Salt Lake City, Tuscon, and Phoenix ahead of the March 22 primaries in Arizona and Utah. The 30 second ad touted Cruz's anti-establishment credentials, claiming Cruz was "the only candidate who has taken on the Washington cartel time after time, and won." The ad also mentioned Cruz's 2013 "Obamacare" filibuster and fight in support of religious liberty while "beating back the liberal agenda."
An updated ad, "Ready on Day One," aired on April 13, 2016 in New York. The TV spot was a positive ad that painted Cruz as a Washington outsider but also highlighted his position on national security and leadership: "The time for big talk has passed. Ted Cruz is trusted and proven. Ready to lead on day one."
Kasich Won't Play
Trusted Leadership was active in Wisconsin leading up to the state's presidential primary election, rolling out political ad-buys targeting John Kasich. An ad titled "Kasich won't play" aired on March 29, 2016 as part of a $442,000 buy in the state, incorrectly claiming that John Kasich received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from George Soros. The ad attacked Kasich for "blocking out the grassroots" and concluded, "Millionaires working side by side with George Soros are bankrolling his super PAC, while Kasich votes against the second Amendment and expanded Obamacare in Ohio, costing taxpayers billions. So given John Kasich's liberal record, it's no surprise his campaign isn't rebounding. Because John Kasich won't play in Wisconsin."
Chip Roy, executive director of Trusted Leadership PAC, told Breitbart.com, “[A]s voters take a closer look at John Kasich, it becomes crystal clear his record is that of a liberal governor -- someone who expanded Obamacare, whose super PAC is being funded by liberal billionaire George Soros, and who voted to restrict gun rights. These are not conservative values. There is only one conservative in the race and that is Senator Ted Cruz, who also has the best chance of not only beating Trump to win the nomination, but also beating Hillary Clinton in November.”
Response to "Kasich Won't Play"
On March 29, 2016, New Day for America, a super PAC backing John Kasich, filed complaints with the television stations in Wisconsin that aired the ad. Some stations, including WLUK in Green Bay and WSAW in Wausau, pulled the ad.
The ad was later revised, changing the text from "Hundreds of thousands of dollars from George Soros" to "Hundreds of thousands of dollars from George Soros cronies." This ad began airing March 31, 2016.
New Day For America also responded with an attack ad on Cruz's honesty, adopting the moniker "Lyin' Ted." The ad showed Cruz's nose growing as the narrator pointed out various false statements made by Cruz during his 2016 presidential campaign: "If Ted Cruz's mouth is moving, he's lying." According to Politico, Kasich asked New Day For America to pull the ad.
Trusted Leadership received $200,000 in contributions in February 2016, $100,000 from John W. Childs and $100,000 from San Jacinto Royalty Comapny, LLC.
In its April FEC filing, Trusted Leadership reported an additional $4,542,550 in donations for the month of March.
Notable donors and donation amounts are listed below:
- Richard Uihlein
- Richard Uihlein donated $1 million to Trusted Leadership on March 9, 2016. Uihlein is an American businessman and billionaire who co-founded Uline, a shipping and freight company headquartered in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, in 1980. Richard Uihlein is a champion of small-government and free-market ideas, contributing massive amounts of money to conservative campaigns and causes.
- Uihlein has been particularly invested in Wisconsin politics. Between 2010 and 2014, Uihlein and his wife Liz donated over $280,000 to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, not including $5 million to Walker's super PAC Unintimidated in 2015. Uihlein also invested heavily in Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who faced Democrat challenger Russ Feingold in a Senate rematch. The wealthy businessman contributed $1.8 million, 96 percent of the $1.9 million Restoration PAC reported to the FEC between 2015 and January 2016. Restoration PAC ran ads attacking Feingold.
- Herzog Contracting Corporation
- Herzog Contracting Corp. donated $1 million to Trusted Leadership on March 7, 2016.
- Keep the Promise I
- Keep the Promise I gave $800,000 to Trusted Leadership on March 24, 2016 and $150,000 on April 29, 2016. Keep the Promise I was bankrolled almost entirely by conservative mega-donor Robert Mercer.
- John W. Childs
- John W. Childs is the Chairman and CEO of J.W. Childs Associates, an American "private equity firm specializing in leveraged buyouts and recapitalizations of middle-market growth companies." According to FEC filings, Childs gave $100,000 to Trusted Leadership on February 29, 2016,, $100,000 on March 7, 2016, and $100,000 on April 4, 2016.
- Childs is an extremely active donor to right-wing causes, so much so that he is nicknamed the "Republican ATM." In 2016 alone, Childs gave to two additional pro-Cruz super PACs: $250,000 to Keep the Promise and $150,000 to Stand for Truth. According to FEC filings, Childs donated $8,390,000 in soft-dollar donations between 2010 and March 2016.
- Richard Devos
- Conservative mega-donor Richard Devos, president of Amway, donated $250,000 to Trusted Leadership on April 1, 2016.
- Stand for Truth Inc.
- Stand for Truth, an independent pro-Cruz super PAC, gave $100,000 to Trusted Leadership on March 28, 2016 and $105,000 on April 18, 2016.
- Benjamin N. Klein
- Benjamin Klein, CEO of Platinum Healthcare, contributed $1 million to Trusted Leadership on April 21, 2016.
- Robert E. Marling
- Robert Marling, CEO of Woodforest National Bank, contributed $500,000 to Trusted Leadership on April 12, 2016.
- Chip Roy, Executive Director, served as chief of staff to Cruz during his first two years in the Senate before leaving to become first assistant to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Roy also served as a senior advisor to Governor Rick Perry and worked for Senator John Cornyn.
- Kurt O'Keefe, Treasurer (as of Trusted Leadership's April monthly FEC filing)
- Alice Hanley, former Treasurer and Custodian of Records, is the wife of oil mogul William Lee Hanley, who serves as Chairman and CEO of Hanley Petroleum Inc and was recently inducted into the Petroleum Museums Hall of Fame. Both Alice and William Hanley have been active donors to conservative campaigns and causes.
- Kate Doner led the fundraising efforts for Trusted Leadership. Doner was top aide to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker during his gubernatorial campaigns and leading consultant and national fundraiser for Walker's Unintimidated PAC during his unsuccessful bid for President in 2015. Doner also served as chief fundraiser for Stand for Truth PAC. Doner also serves as president of Doner Fundraising, a fundraising and event services company that "work(s) with a broad base of organizations and Republican candidates to maximize their current and potential fundraising and event efforts."
- Dave Carney: According to The Texas Tribune, Carney joined Trusted Leadership shortly after Ted Cruz's primary victory in Wisconsin on April 5, 2016. Carney was a long-time adviser to former Texas Governor Rick Perry and served as senior adviser to David Dewhurst, who was Cruz's 2012 Senate campaign rival. "We brought Dave on in mid-April to help manage such a fast-paced environment," Chip Roy said in a statement. "His experience, connections and knowledge supplemented an already strong team as we geared up for the homestretch to the nomination. Unfortunately after Indiana, that wasn't to be -- but we know we left everything on the field working to elect Sen. Cruz."
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- Federal Election Commission, Statement of Organization FEC filing, February 19, 2016.
- Fredreka Schouten, "First Look: Ted Cruz allies launch new super PAC," USA Today, March 4, 2016.
- Peter Overby, For Some SuperPACs Backing Ted Cruz, It's Time To Unite Against Trump, National Public Radio, March 24, 2016.
- Center for Responsive Politics, Keep the Promise II Contributors, 2016 cycle, opensecrets.org, accessed on March 31, 2016.
- Trusted Leadership PAC, About Us, organizational website, accessed on March 31, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, Independent Expenditures: Trusted Leadership PAC, FEC filing, May 20, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, June Monthly Filing: Trusted Leadership PAC, FEC filing, June 20, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, Trusted Leadership April monthly filing, FEC filing, April 20, 2016.
- Center for Responsive Politics, Trusted Leadership PAC: Independent Expenditures, Communication Costs and Coordinated Expenses as of April 28, 2016, Opensecrets.org, accessed June 24, 2016.
- Theodore Schleifer, First on CNN: Cruz super PAC returns to Kasich attack, CNN, April 22, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, 24 hour report of independent expenditures, FEC filing, April 22, 2016.
- Pro-Ted Cruz PAC Pins Trump Against Ropes for Tyson Ties, I Agree To See, May 2, 2016.
- Eric Appleman. Trusted Leadership PAC: "Conservative Champion, Democracy in Action, 2016, accessed on April 1, 2016.
- Katie Glueck, Pro-Cruz group makes big ad buy in Arizona, Utah, Politico, March 17, 2016.
- Julie Bykowicz, "Soros inaccurately floated as Kasich backer in pro-Cruz ad," Associated Press, March 29, 2016.
- Susan Berry, Super PAC for John Kasich Adopts Donald Trump’s ‘Lyin’ Ted’ Moniker for Ted Cruz, Breitbart News Network, March 31, 2016.
- Matt Carle, False Trusted Leadership PAC Advertisement, New Day for America, email, March 29, 2016.
- D'Angelo Gore, Soros not funding Kasich PAC, factcheck.org, March 31, 2016.
- Nick Gass, Kasich wants super PAC to pull 'lyin' Ted' ad, Politico, April 1, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, FEC Form 3X REPORT OF RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS For Other Than An Authorized Committee - Trusted Leadership PAC, FEC filing, accessed on March 31, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, Schedule A Itemized Receipts, FEC filing, April 20, 2016.
- Uline, About Us: Company History, corporate website, accessed on April 5, 2016.
- Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Campaign Finance Database search: Elizabeth Uihlein, organizational website, accessed on April 25, 2016.
- Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Campaign Finance Database search: Richard Uihlein, organizational website, accessed on April 25, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, Itemized Receipts: Unintimidated PAC, FEC filing, July 31, 2015.
- Federal Election Commission, Itemized Receipts: Unintimidated PAC, FEC filing, July 31, 2015.
- Federal Election Commission, Itemized Receipts: Unintimidated PAC, FEC filing, January 31, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, FEC Forc 3X Report of Receipts and Disbursements Mid Year Report, FEC filing, July 30, 2015.
- Federal Election Commission, FEC Form 3X REPORT OF RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS Year End Report, FEC filing, January 29, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, Itemized Receipts: Trusted Leadership PAC, FEC filing, May 20, 2016.
- J.W. Childs Associates, About Us, organizational website, accessed on March 31, 2016.
- Federal Elections Commission, Schedule A (FEC Form 3X) Itemized Receipts, FEC filing, accessed on April 1, 2016
- Francis Storrs, The 50 Wealthiest Bostonians, Boston Magazine, March, 2006.
- Federal Election Commission, Individual Contributions Arranged By Type, Giver, Then Recipient, FEC filings, generated March 31, 2016.
- Trusted Leadership PAC, News: Trusted Leadership PAC Names Chip Roy Executive Director, organizational website, March 10, 2016.
- Patrick Svitek, Former Assistant Attorney General Joins Pro-Ted Cruz Super PAC, The Texas Tribune, March 10, 2016.
- The Petroleum Museum, Hall of Fame, organizational website, accessed on April 1, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, Individual Contributions Arranged By Type, Giver, Then Recipient: William Lee Hanley, FEC filing, accessed April 1, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, Individual Contributions Arranged By Type, Giver, Then Recipient: Alice Hanley, FEC filing, accessed on April 1, 2016.
- Theodore Schleifer, For Ted Cruz, it's still all about Rubio -- and cash, CNN, February 11, 2016.
- Kate Doner Kate Doner, LinkedIn, accessed on March 31, 2016.
- State Policy Network, Doner Fundraising, organizational website, accessed on March 31, 2016.
- Patrick Svitek, Longtime Perry Strategist Helped Cruz in Final Stretch, The Texas Tribune, May 5, 2016.