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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Keep the Promise

pg16insertPolitical Leanings: Republican/Pro-Ted Cruz Super PACs

Spending target: Unknown

Keep the Promise is a network of five independent super PACs supporting Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz. Three of the super PACs are primarily funded by multi-million dollar donations from an individual or family, and a fourth is funded mostly by smaller donors. Politico reported that the PACs were set up this way “to cater to the different big donors funding them.”

Keep the Promise I was formed with an $11 million donation from Robert Mercer, a hedge fund magnate who began his career at IBM. Over the years, Mercer has donated to several prominent conservative political action committees, including Concerned Taxpayers for America, Club for Growth Action and American Crossroads. Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah, hosted a fundraiser for Cruz in 2015.

Keep the Promise II is supported by a $10 million donation from Quantum Energy Partners co-founder Toby Neugebauer. For years, Neugebauer has contributed to the National Republican Congressional Committee and Republican candidates for Congress. His father, Randy Neugebauer, a Republican, is the U.S. representative for the 19th District in Texas.

Keep the Promise III received almost all of its $16 million in contributions from members of the Wilks family. Farris and Daniel Wilks profited extensively from the fracking boom in West Texas. In 2011, they sold their share of the company, Frac Tech, for $3.5 billion, making the Wilks brothers two of the richest men in Texas. Daniel and his wife, Staci, contributed $5 million to the super PAC, and Farris and his wife, JoAnn, contributed $10 million.

Another group, Keep the Promise PAC, has received smaller amounts from donors and focuses on media and online campaign efforts. As of Jan. 31, 2016, it took in about $3.7 million, and its largest donors were Richard Uihlein, chief executive officer of Uline, and Robert McNair, the founder, chairman and CEO of the Houston Texans of the National Football League.

A fifth super PAC, Keep the Promise to Veterans, registered with the Federal Election Commission on Feb. 11, 2016. It has been linked to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who endorsed Cruz after ending his own presidential campaign. The treasurer of the PAC is Kathy Walt, a former chief of staff to Perry. Walt said Perry, an Air Force veteran, wants to “make sure that veterans issues do not get lost in the discourse” of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Although the PACs collectively have received nearly $40 million in contributions since April 2015, they have spent a relatively small chunk of that money.

Keep the Promise I has spent the most — more than $9.4 million — on independent expenditures, or ads for or against a candidate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The group has spent over $6.2 million on ads for Cruz and the rest on ads attacking Sen. Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

However, Keep the Promise PAC and Keep the Promise III have spent just over $2 million, combined, on ads supporting Cruz. And Keep the Promise II has spent none of its $10 million on independent expenditures, as of March 3, 2016. That PAC reported spending just over $634,000, total, as of Dec. 31, 2015. Of that amount, $500,000 went to “campaign research services,” according to FEC records.

And even though the super PACs exist mainly to promote Cruz for president, at least one contributed to a rival candidate. In June 2015, Keep the Promise I transferred $500,000 to Carly for America, the super PAC for Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, who has since dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for president.

At the time, Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, acting as a spokeswoman for Mercer, who donated $11 million to the super PAC, told Bloomberg Politics that the group was still committed to Cruz but would also help others.

“It is a federal PAC that will offer support to other candidates for President and other offices, and will work with the affiliated PACs Keep the Promise II, III and Keep the Promise PAC, to promote Ted Cruz for President,” she told Bloomberg Politics.

Fact-checking Keep the Promise:

Cruz’s Record Before the Supreme Court, March 3, 2016