Federal elections forms show Broward Republican Party vice chair candidate Lauren Cooley made big bucks from a “Super PAC” she formed in June 2016. Cooley, a twenty-four year old musician, is listed as the chairman of the Campus Red PAC. The political action committee is registered at her parents’ home address in Fort Lauderdale.
Cooley is using her Campus Red PAC as the main rationale for Broward Republican Executive Committee (BREC) members to elect her vice-chair in December. In an email to BREC members, Cooley said she founded Campus Red PAC to register and mobilize the “next generation” of college Republicans. She boasts of an army of paid staff signing up 11,000 college students at Florida universities.
Cooley wrote, “In less than 6 months, I fundraised just under 75 thousand dollars, hired, trained, and managed 15+ paid staff, and executed a cutting edge field program, resulting in the registration of roughly 11,000 conservative college students, all in the state of Florida.”
But records filed with the Federal Elections Commission show Cooley and her Campus Red PAC co-founder pocketed most of the money raised by her committee. As of September 30, 2016, Cooley and treasurer Cade Marsh received nearly 80% of Campus Red PAC expenses.
Cooley received “retainer” payments of $2,000 each in August and September. Marsh, head of a Florida college Republican group, received the same retainer payments.
In September, Cooley and Marsh received large “reimbursement” payments. There were no other details or itemization for these payments.
Marsh received a $5,971.29 reimbursement while Lauren Cooley received a $4,331.47 reimbursement payment.
As of September 30, 2016 Cooley was paid $8,33.47 by her Campus Red PAC. Records covering October and November have not been filed. As of publication, it is unclear whether Cooley and Marsh received further retainer or reimbursement payments.
Cooley and Marsh received $18,302.76 out the $23,062 operating expenses through September.
The Campus Red PAC records show other paid staff received far less than Cooley. As of September, three college staffers received $250 each as “independent” contractors. The Nova Southeastern University College Republicans received a $150 payment, while the UCF College Republicans got a $100 payment.
Other Campus Red PAC expenses included airfare on JetBlue, hotel accommodations in Orlando, Saint Augustine and Washington, D.C.
Campus Red PAC paid more than $1,000 for an event at the exclusive Tower Club in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
Cooley spent nearly $500 on a t-shirt order from Edco Trophies in Fort Lauderdale.
In her campaign email, Cooley wrote, “I would like to bring this experience of fundraising and running a full-scale, state-wide campaign to BREC.” While there may be nothing wrong with the Cooley payments, it’s doubtful many BREC members want leadership skilled at making money off the hard work of grassroots volunteers.
Also worrisome, did Chair candidate Rico Petrocelli do his due diligence into Campus Red PAC before selecting Cooley to run on his slate of officers?
Will BREC members see “RED” over Cooley’s PAC? Stay tuned…