Meet the Rich Texan Twentysomething Bankrolling His Own Super PAC

John Ramsey, a 21-year-old Stephen F. Austin State University student, has poured some $890,000 of his own money into a his super PAC, which supports "libertarian-infused conservatism."
Thu May 17, 2012 11:50 pm
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Meet John Ramsey, the 21-year-old millionaire and Stephen F. Austin State University student, who founded and funded his own super PAC with his inheritance.

Mother Jones ’s Tim Murphy (who describes himself as a “Wannabe Texan” in his Twitter profile) introduces the broader world to Ramsey in a piece on the magazine’s website. Ramsey’s super PAC, Liberty for All, appears to be more than just a vanity project, as it has real financial heft drawn from Ramsey’s personal coffers. (Ramsey inherited an untold sum in the millions from his grandfather, who died in 2010, and he has directed $890,000 of that towards his super PAC.)

Ramsey (who remains nine credits away from his bachelor’s in economics), met Preston Bates, a babyfaced 23-year-old * former Kentucky Democratic state committeeman (who has also put his degree on hold), when they were both campaigning for Ron Paul in Iowa, Murphy reported. The pair incorporated Liberty for All in March.

The group and its precocious founders have been generating headlines in recent days for spending more than $540,000 on television ads supporting Thomas Massie, a Ron Paul-backed candidate and “an MIT-trained engineer turned anti-tax activist” who is running to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis in Kentucky’s 4th Congressional district. And their support of Massie, who was dubbed a “Tea Party darling” by the Associated Press, does not stop there: Liberty for All is also devoting dollars to canvassing and phone-banking, which most other outside groups are not doing, Murphy reported.

Ramsey and Bates hope to have more influence and staying power than other Ron Paul-focused super PACs. As Murphy wrote:

“We’re the only freedom organization that is focused on winning elections, plural,” Bates says. “They were focused on winning one election and that’s Ron Paul’s campaign. Our [goal] is to become an institution.” They’re hoping to create non-profit spinoffs devoted to voter education and candidate development. That would give the “Liberty movement”—the term of choice for Paul’s brand of libertarian-infused conservatism—the kind of infrastructure it currently lacks. “I don’t know of frankly any super- PAC that’s doing that,” Bates says. “I would call us more like a party, frankly.” He points to groups like the Democratic National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee as models.

“Brat PAC,” the headline for Murphy’s piece, couldn’t be more apt. There’s more than a whiff of arrogance in how the pair talks about their creation. “We’re on the frontier of freedom, we’re defending the American way of life,” Ramsey said. “We want to take the front lines, we want to be the front-line PAC that takes the weight of the freedom movement on our shoulder.”

Liberty for All’s group’s website (which claims the group offers a unique blend of “young energy and mature ideas”) is packed with other choice lines, including “If we get involved in a race, it’s because we will be the game-changing force for freedom,” and “Plainly put, we are the liberty organization that wins elections. That is our identity. Liberty For All is different because we are not a short-term, seasonal group. We’re an institution.” These, of course, are big claims for a group that incorporated in March and thus lacks a proven track record.

Regardless of the outcome in the Kentucky race, Texas will likely be seeing more of Ramsey’s super PAC, which currently has offices in Nacogdoches, Tyler, Houston, and Austin. With this week’s news that Paul won’t be spending money to campaign in any remaining primary, Ramsey told Murphy he’s “more than happy to pick up the slack” for Paul in Texas’s May 29th primary. The super PAC is also directing money towards unseating U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, who is reviled for sponsoring the Stop Online Piracy Act. Ramsey also appears to be headed to the state’s Republican Party Convention in June.

*correction: A previous version of this story said Preston Bates was 24. He is 23. We regret the error.

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