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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Pursuing America’s Greatness

pg16insertPolitical leanings: Republican/Pro-Huckabee Super PAC

Spending target: Unknown

Pursuing America’s Greatness is a super PAC formed in March 2015 to support former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s presidential candidacy.

The PAC is run by Iowa political consultant Nick Ryan, who led the pro-Santorum super PAC Red White and Blue Fund during Santorum’s 2012 presidential run. Ryan, a longtime political adviser to former Iowa Rep. Jim Nussle, was also chairman of Team Iowa PAC, a statewide political action committee, and was a founder of the conservative American Future Fund, a national 501(c)(4) that got involved in the 2010 midterm congressional elections.

The treasurer of Pursuing America’s Greatness, Bryan Jeffrey, is also the treasurer of Huck PAC, Huckabee’s leadership PAC, and he works with Huckabee to direct a collective of companies under the Blue Diamond name.

Pursuing America’s Greatness may raise unlimited amounts of money but must disclose the source of its donations to the Federal Election Commission. As of Nov. 16, 2015, the group disclosed it had raised $3,604,987.

Of this amount, the Center for Responsive Politics reports, $500,000 came from Sharon J. Herschend of Herschend Family Entertainment, owner of Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, and other amusement parks. However, the campaign’s largest donor by far is Mountaire Corporation CEO Ronald Cameron, who contributed $3 million. Cameron previously donated $600,000 to the pro-Tom Cotton super PAC Arkansas Horizon to support Cotton’s 2014 campaign for the Senate. Mountaire Corp., a poultry company, was the largest corporate donor to the Koch-backed super PAC network Freedom Partners Action Fund in the 2014 cycle. In August 2015, the Center for Responsive Politics revealed that Cameron’s private foundation, The Jesus Fund, may have violated federal tax law by failing to disclose the names of charities benefiting from its donations.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Pursuing America’s Greatness had independent expenditures totaling $2,228,793, also through Nov. 16, 2015. The PAC spent $2,020,869 on pro-Huckabee campaigning. It spent an additional $185,451 campaigning against Sen. Ted Cruz and $22,473 campaigning against Sen. Marco Rubio. Notably, the Center for Responsive Politics reported that $29,796 went to Huckabee’s company Blue Diamond Travel, which was “by far the largest single disbursement marked as ‘travel’ from any presidential super PAC during the first six months of 2015.” It is unknown how this money was used. However, if the funds were used to transport Huckabee, this would raise controversy, since super PACs are prohibited from paying candidate expenses.