Ted Cruz, in his outsider’s bid for the White House, has depended heavily on the largesse of just three wealthy donors to establish credibility and stay afloat amid a chaotic nominating process that killed off most of his rivals.
Now, at perhaps the most desperate moment in his quest to win the Republican nomination, Cruz is learning the perils of relying on strong-willed magnates who carry their own agendas and have demanded an unprecedented level of control in how their money is spent.
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.
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.
“I don’t know if he’s having a $10 million party in Cleveland, or what. It became apparent almost immediately that his money wasn’t really there.”
Neugebauer, though, said he was alarmed by the profligate spending of other super PACs that spent vast sums on candidates who flamed out. He said he is relieved to have set up a strategy where he and two other major donors dictate how their money is spent.
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SOURCE: LA Times, Joseph Tanfani and Noah Bierman