Paul transfers $250K to RPK for caucus; McConnell still supporting plan

08/17/2015 06:01 PM

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is seeking support from the Republican Party of Kentucky’s central committee in his bid to pursue an early presidential caucus in the commonwealth.

Paul, R-Ky., transferred $250,000 to the RPK account to fund the caucus with plans to move an additional $200,000 “roughly mid fall after all the budgets and rules are finalized,” Paul told members of the RPK central committee in an email and letter sent Monday.

The GOP presidential contender also has plans to host a conference call with central committee members this week in his endeavor to skirt a state statute that stipulates a candidate can only appear on the ballot for one office at a time. Paul is seeking re-election to his Senate seat while running for president in 2016.

In the letter, Paul writes that he “wanted to formally ask you once again to vote for this plan. Before you do, I wanted you to hear straight from me about the plan to fund it.”

Paul continues saying that an ultimate cost for the plan is not final, but estimates suggest a $400,000 to $500,000 price tag for the 2016 caucus. That cost will fall on Paul’s shoulders, and he does not say in the letter where the funds are coming from — his presidential campaign or U.S. Senate campaign.

If the Republican state central committee approves the plan on Saturday, Paul warns that is not the final step. The Republican National Committee will have to grant final approval in the fall, Paul writes.

“An additional $150,000 to $250,000 will be raised by charging Presidential candidates $15,000 to register. Similar fees are charged in other states,” Paul told the central committee members in the letter.

“I want to make sure NO COUNTY CHAIR or RPK will be on the hook for ANY money for this caucus,” Paul continues. “ I do understand that there are county chairs who want to use the caucus to energize voter registration and raise money for their own county. I applaud this initiative and believe it would greatly benefit the party for the 2016 elections.”

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters in Georgetown that he still supports the caucus and that Paul is doing what he has committed to do with the funding of the initiative.

“We’ve never done it before, which is why I was skeptical about it, but we wanted to do him a favor and allow him to compete for the presidency. So as long as he picks up the costs, that’s what we’ll allow him to do,” McConnell said.

When asked by Pure Politics if RPK should hold a caucus in 2020, McConnell bluntly replied, “I hope not.”

McConnell did not take questions regarding GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, whom Paul has engaged in ads and from the stage during the first Republican presidential debate.

State Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, who proposed legislation in the Senate during the 2014 session to allow Paul to appear on the ballot twice, says he supports the move to a caucus system in 2016.

Thayer told Pure Politics in a phone call that he “trusts Rand” and he is still on board with the funding plan for the caucus as Paul outlines in the letter.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.

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