Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has made career out of decrying big government, but he appears unable to escape the Super PAC-powered rise of big money.
PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel injected $1.7 million into the pro-Paul Super PAC Endorse Liberty, according to Federal Election Commission filings released Monday. Thiel had also given Endorse Liberty $900,000 previously.
Endorse Liberty has rallied online entrepeneurs who support Paul, according to Politico: the Super PAC was founded by Internet marketer Jeff Harmon and Smiley Media founder Stephen Oskoui, and in addition to Thiel it has drawn donations from PayPal co-founder Luke Nosek and technology entrepreneurs James O'Neill and Jonathan Cain.
Super PACs are allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money, and although they are technically prohibited from coordinating with specific candidates they are able to effectively operate as campaign surrogates by bankrolling advertisements.
That has enabled an affluent few to wield disproportionate influence over the race so far. The Newt Gingrich-affiliated Super PAC Winning our Future has drawn $10 million from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, with another $10 million potentially on the way; the pro-Rick Santorum has gotten hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Wyoming billionaire Foster Friess, who recently stumbled into the spotlight after making controversial comments about contraception; and the Mitt Romney-backing Restore Our Future received at least $1 million from 12 separate donors.