U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has transferred $250,000 to the Republican Party of Kentucky as a down payment for a presidential caucus he wants the party to conduct in March, according to an email sent to the party's central committee Monday.
Paul is seeking the party's help in bypassing a state law that prohibits him from running for president and for re-election to his Senate seat on the same ballot in 2016.
The email was also intended to quell concerns among the central committee -- which has nearly 350 members -- about the cost of the caucus. Committee members are worried that they could end up having to cover the remainder if costs exceed what Paul has pledged. Scott Lasley, chairman of the Warren County Republican Party and leader of the special committee for drafting proposed rules for the caucus, has said he thinks the $250,000 is "a good start."
In the email, Paul promised to "fully fund this caucus," and estimates the cost at $400,000 to $500,000. In addition to the $250,000 payment, Paul said he would "raise or transfer" $200,000 more. Paul also said he expects $150,000 to $225,000 to be raised by charging every presidential candidate who wants to participate in the caucus a $15,000 filing fee.
"As you can see, this requires a lot of funds and effort by my team and myself," Paul wrote. "We are ready to do it right now, and with your vote on Aug. 22, we will all move forward, together."
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has expressed skepticism about the caucus idea, told reporters Monday that Paul "has indicated he's going to do what he had told me he was going to do earlier, which is to make sure that the cost of the caucus was defrayed...And it seems to me that's what he's committed to doing, and I'm pleased to continue to support the caucus."
When asked about the impact low participation rates could have on the state party as a whole, McConnell said, "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, and so as long as he picks up the cost, that's what we're going to do."
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