One of the three primary donors to Cruz’s presidential efforts, a private equity manager who recruited the other two top donors, has refrained from spending the vast majority of his $10 million contribution to bolster the Cruz campaign. He is instead fighting openly with the top strategist for the super PACs that were set up to spend the money.Bottom line, he is sitting on that money.
The man at the center of the fight, Toby Neugebauer, is a close friend of Cruz and his wife, Heidi. Neugebauer and his own wife have vacationed with the Cruzes, and he still counts himself a major supporter. But he has refused to spend $9 million of the $10 million he put into a super PAC.
“He was going to go up with ads in October or November. That came and went, and then he said he’s saving it for Super Tuesday,” said Kellyanne Conway, who oversees a network of super PACs supporting Cruz.
To counter the risk of a repeat of 2012, Neugebauer, the son of Texas Rep. Randy Neugebauer, helped set up three super PACs last year to support Cruz, each using a variation of the name Keep the Promise — one for each major donor. The groups, forbidden by law to communicate with the Cruz campaign, planned to divvy up responsibilities for aiding his candidacy.Of course Neugebauer would be an expert on the middle class...
But that strategy proved unwieldy, and the super PACs united in early March under the name Trusted Leadership PAC to raise more money. Neugebauer, however, has yet to come aboard. He complained that the political consultants remain addicted to buying negative television ads, a strategy that has proven particularly ineffective against the star power of front-runner Donald Trump. Neugebauer said he has instead pressed for positive ads placed in social media, but has been rebuffed.
“There were some political consultants, especially the establishment’s favorites, who didn’t know they were extinct,” Neugebauer said. “People are going to be looking for a completely fresh set of talent.”
Neugebauer said he would not start spending money on Trump during the primary but declined to disparage Trump’s credentials for office, as many other Cruz backers have done.
“Ted and I are close friends. I am going to support the nominee. I’m not 'Never Trump,'" he said, referring to the effort among some Republicans to deny Trump the nomination. "I think all that talk is just disgusting and shows a complete lack of understanding of what the middle class is going through in America. I want those voters for Ted in November.”
Neugebauer, for example, lives in Puerto Rico with his family among a community of mega-wealthy Americans who are taking advantage of the island’s generous income tax breaks.What's his major political concern?
Neugebauer said he and the other donors were not motivated by personal issues or gain, nor do all of them necessarily agree with Cruz’s sharply conservative views on social issues. Rather, he said, they are united by a concern for the country’s debt.
“I know it sounds crazy,” he said. “We are anti-establishment and we all think the country is on the precipice of insolvency.”
Would you like to meet Cruz's other investors?
Farris Wilks and his brother Dan founded Frac Tech, which provided equipment and services for hydraulic fracking; they sold the company, of which they owned a majority, for more than $3 billion in 2011. Wilks serves as a pastor in Assembly of Yahweh, a church that forbids the celebration of Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
Wilks has called climate change God’s will and condemned homosexuality as “a perversion tantamount to bestiality, pedophilia and incest,” according to recordings of sermons reviewed by Reuters.
Mercer, a hedge fund executive, is a strong advocate for returning to the gold standard who has funded groups that have cast doubt on the science of climate change.
Cruz also has criticized the consensus scientific view of climate change, and has suggested he too would welcome a return to the gold standard, an idea that has little backing among mainstream economists.