Who, exactly, is behind the Ready for Romney super PAC?
The new group has drawn consternation from longtime Romney advisers, who worry it could be a scam, designed to rip off vulnerable supporters of the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.
“I would seem to me we would know something or at least one of the names connected to a legitimate organization,” said Spencer Zwick, a former top fundraiser for Mitt Romney. “In this case, I don’t know any of the individuals. Nor do they appear to have been big Romney supporters. I likewise don’t know any Romney donors or former campaign leadership at all connected to this group.”
Launched late last week, Ready for Romney appears to be, at best, political amateur hour.
The executive director is a 26-year-old named Jeffrey Goff who lives in Boston and has never worked on a campaign, let alone for the former Massachusetts governor.
Goff told The Daily Beast he had previously worked at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, then acknowledged he had merely attended a seminar there. He said he worked for an IT security consultancy, but when pressed for the name of his firm, he said clients just make out a check to him personally.
The goal of the organization, he said, is to “lay the groundwork for a Romney candidacy, get an email list going, and compile a list of donors that will be ready if he’s ready to run. What we want to do is work with those folks to stay all on the same message.”
Goff is joined by Peter Giuta, Ready for Romney’s director of outreach, who works for a New York State Assembly member. Goff lives in Massachusetts, Giuta lives in New York, and the organization’s FEC filing indicates a mailing address in California. (Goff says he registered a postal forwarding service there.)
“By no means are we Grade A professional consultants,” Goff said. “I’m just an adamant supporter of the governor. I genuinely believe that he’d make a great president. We’re going to do everything we can.”
Since Ready for Romney’s launch a week ago, Goff said, it has raised more than $5,000. Money is raised on the super PAC’s website through Piryx, an online fundraising tool whose major investors include Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer and Obama campaign veteran Andrew Bleeker. (No Labels co-founder and Daily Beast columnist Mark McKinnon is also an investor.) The plan is eventually to spend money running ads in Iowa and New Hampshire emphasizing Romney’s record.
On Sunday, Ready for Romney held what it characterized as a nationwide call for activists hoping to draft Romney into the 2016 presidential race. One person who dialed in has “a pretty big Twitter following,” Goff said, “several thousand.” Approximately 100 Romney fans were invited on the call, he said.
In Romneyland, the super PAC is being met with real suspicion and skepticism.
“It will be very interesting to see how any of these dollars are actually spent,” said Stuart Stevens, formerly Romney’s chief strategist and now a Daily Beast contributor. ”This certainly has no connection to anyone I’m aware of with Romney for President.”
Tim Lussier, who worked as Western digital director for Romney’s 2012 campaign, said he found it “strange this ‘Ready for Romney’ organization has no ties to anyone in the conservative community, and for that reason I urge the public to avoid giving donations or getting involved… This very anonymous super PAC claiming to support Romney should be avoided.”
Goff said he had consulted with a former Romney staffer by the name of Jared Townsend. Romney aides say they do not recognize that name.
It is not unheard of for consultants to get rich off super PACs that fundraise on behalf of candidates and then do little to support their campaigns—something former Romney aides fear is happening with Ready for Romney.
But Goff called it “insulting” to suggest that he might be running a super PAC for personal gain. He said he dipped into his personal funds and “reached out to some people who gave money” to get the PAC started.
“I’m not affiliated with anybody in the Romney camp, but I certainly believe, as adamantly as the next person, in Gov. Romney and his leadership ability,” Goff said.
Though Romney still receives substantial support in polling on the potential 2016 Republican presidential field, there are no signs he is seriously considering a third bid for the White House. His wife, for one, has said of the prospect: “We’re not doing that again.”