The Slatest

Report: Rick Perry’s Campaign Staff No Longer Being Paid, Will Instead “Live Off the Land”

Republican presidential candidate and former Texas Governor Rick,Republican presidential candidate and former Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Republican presidential candidate and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry fields questions at the Family Leadership Summit at Stephens Auditorium on July 18, 2015, in Ames, Iowa.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

After Rick Perry’s South Carolina state director confirmed to National Journal that his state’s campaign workers were no longer being paid, CBS News reported Monday night that all of the former Texas governor’s staffers have been cut off.

A source “close to Perry’s campaign” told CBS that staffers were notified by the campaign’s national manager, Jeff Miller, that the campaign would only pay for barebones travel expenses, with Perry’s outposts in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina and his Austin, Texas headquarters all losing payroll. The New York Times quoted an unnamed aide to the campaign, who expected to be working without pay for “at least a few weeks.”


The bad news reportedly came on Friday, the day after Perry was relegated by Fox News to the “kids table” for the party’s first debate. Miller’s announcement included “a green light to look for jobs elsewhere,” according to CBS, but the head of the campaign in South Carolina told National Journal that Perry’s staffers in the state, himself included, were staying on as volunteers. “Pay is only one reason people do this,” Katon Dawson said Monday. “We’ll be able to live off the land for a while.”


Perry’s 2016 fundraising has been weak compared with that of his primary rivals, with his campaign bringing in only a little over $1 million in the first six months of 2015, compared with $11.4 million for Jeb Bush and $7 million for Rand Paul. The vast majority of the available money is controlled by pro-Perry super PACs, which can support his run with ads and ground organization but not chip in for the official campaign’s expenses. From the Washington Post:


[A] group of Opportunity and Freedom super PACs promoting Perry’s candidacy–which are in far healthier state financially, having raised nearly $17 million by mid-July–are planning to compensate for the shrinking campaign.

Austin Barbour, senior adviser to the super PAC, said the group would step up “to aggressively support the governor in a number of different ways.”

“We’ve got plenty of money,” Barbour said. “That’s what I know. And we’re going to put that money to use in Iowa to make sure the governor is in the top three there. The super PAC is not going to let Rick Perry down.”

Barbour added, “He’s going to get one breakout performance at a debate and he’ll really jump up in the polls. Voters need to see him perform very well at a debate…This is a very fluid field, things will change a lot, and we will continue to be very patient.”

Depending on the trajectory of his polling numbers, Perry might again be shuffled off to a second-tier event when CNN hosts the next GOP debate. But those discounting his chance to pull off a “breakout performance” at the Reagan Library in September should remember that being excluded from the main attraction didn’t stop him from distinguishing himself last Thursday, when he appealed so eloquently to Republicans’ sense of nostalgia with his praise for conservative hero Ronald Raven.