Gov. Scott tapped to chair Super PAC supporting Trump

by | Jul 28, 2016

Rebuilding America Now, a Super PAC supporting Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign, announced Wednesday evening that Florida Gov. Rick Scott would serve as the group’s national chairman.

The news was first posted in a Tweet by Rebuilding America Now, which Scott retweeted on his own account.

Scott endorsed Trump on March 16, the day after he won Florida’s presidential primary election. In his own press release announcing the new role, Scott said that he was “excited” to chair the PAC, and praised Trump as “a businessman and an outsider” who “will bring the major change to Washington that our country
needs right now,” comparing Trump’s campaign to his own first gubernatorial campaign in 2010.

According to the PAC’s website, their goal is to act as a counterweight to Priorities USA Action, a Super PAC backing Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Rebuilding American Now was launched at the beginning of June with the help of Tom Barrack, a Los Angeles-based developer who is a close friend of Trump’s. Barrack won’t have a formal role with the PAC. The two main advisers are Ken McKay, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s former campaign manager and a former senior adviser to Gov. Scott during his 2010 race, and Laurance Gay, a close confidante of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

A likely role for Scott will be helping the group fundraise.

Barrack told reporters that the PAC had secured $32 million in financial commitments, but so far, FEC records show that they have collected only $2,160,000 in donations from four donors.

Murray Energy Corporation of St. Clairsville, Ohio, the “largest underground coal mining company in America,” according to their website, contributed $100,000. Southeast QSR, LLC, a Clearwater, Florida based company that operates Taco Bell and Pizza Hut franchises in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina, gave the PAC $50,000, and Nashville-based developer Rick Carlton, a frequent name on GOP donor lists, threw in $10,000.

Over 92 percent of the PAC’s funds came from Geoffrey H. Palmer, a Beverly Hills developer who gave $2,000,000. This contribution made Palmer Trump’s biggest individual donor besides himself.

Palmer, who Curbed Los Angeles dubbed “Downtown’s Worst Developer” is no stranger to controversy, being frequently criticized for his penchant for sprawling, ostentatious, “fauxtalian” apartment complexes, “accidentally” bulldozing a 1880 Queen Anne historic home, violating campaign finance laws by laundering donations and giving illegal contributions, and building skybridges on his buildings to allow tenants to avoid having to walk past homeless people in downtown L.A..

Earlier this year, Palmer was sued by the city of Los Angeles after an arson fire destroyed one of his apartment buildings while it was being constructed, as well as damaging or destroying the rest of the buildings on the block. L.A.’s city attorney accused Palmer’s development company of not having an adequate fire plan, failed to have proper fire walls and other fire suppression devices, and failed to have adequate water on site, arguing if they had, the fire could have been prevented or contained. Palmer’s company was also accused of failing to have proper security measures on the construction site that could have prevented people like the arsonist from trespassing on the property.

So far, FEC campaign finance records show that Rebuilding America Now has spent over $1.4 million on their video ads attacking Clinton. McKay and Gay, the two main advisers to the PAC, were each paid $60,000 for just the month of June. After tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, travel, and other miscellaneous expenses, there was less than $600,000 cash on hand.

It’s unclear how much money Rebuilding America Now has taken in during recent weeks. Politico reported that the group is spending $2.2 million in ads this week.

This article has been updated with additional information.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.

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