In the three weeks since Endorse Liberty Inc. formed as a super PAC with the Federal Election Commission, the group has spent nearly $1 million on ads supporting Ron Paul, $151,000 of which went to a media company owned by one of the founders of the group.
The group was put together by four businessmen. According to the group’s treasurer Abe Niederhauser, none have ties to the GOP presidential candidate.
The other three founders are Jeffrey Harmon, Ladd Christensen and Stephen Oskoui. Oskoui is the owner of Smiley Media—an Austin-based company that has made a series of ad buys on Facebook for the super PAC.
The Sunlight Foundation attempted to reach Oskoui and Smiley Media to ask about the relationship between the super PAC and the firm that is profiting from it, but so far, our calls have gone unanswered.
MORE: See an up-to-date interactive table of the latest presidential super PAC spending here.
In an e-mail exchange, Niederhauser said he and his associates founded the super PAC because they believe Ron Paul is the only candidate who is “serious about the Constitution, spending cuts and balancing the budget.”
Niederhauser declined to identify the group's donors. “TBA,” he said. On Monday, the group took advantage of an FEC loophole utilized by a number of other presidential super PACs to delay disclosing donors until Jan. 31. In doing so, the group followed the lead of big spending super PACs backing Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman, all of which have put off disclosures they otherwise would have had to make in advance of this month's key early primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.
A video on Endorse Liberty's website stars a character impersonating Mitt Romney. The self-described "fake Mitt Romney" character claims he's been so impressed by Paul's message and political consistency that he’s going to vote for Paul instead of himself. (Warning: If you decide to watch below, you might want to pack a snack. It's 12 minutes long.)
According to FEC records, the group has also placed Internet ads using Google Adwords and StumbleUpon in addition to the Facebook ads. It’s unclear whether or not the group will air any ads on television.
Keenan Steiner contributed reporting