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Cruz’s Fundraising Strength: Network of Wealthy Donors

Ted_Cruz_Debate_2_2_jpg_312x1000_q100Wealthy investors shot skeet with Sen. Ted Cruz in Park City, Utah, earlier this month. Conservative lawyers gathered in a clubby Washington restaurant last week to raise money for his presidential bid. And on Monday, billionaire technology entrepreneur Darwin Deason and five other wealthy Texans announced that they were coming aboard his campaign.

For all his bashing of “billionaire Republican donors” who “actively despise our base,” the anti-establishment senator from Texas is being bolstered by his own robust base of wealthy contributors. Cruz raised $5.2 million through the end of September from supporters who gave him the $2,700 maximum — making him No. 2 in the GOP race for large donors, after former Florida governor Jeb Bush, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute.

Cruz’s un­or­tho­dox campaign has hit on a fundraising formula that no other candidate has been able to match: raising millions from a robust base of grass-roots supporters while building a substantial network of rich backers.

The senator’s quiet fundraising prowess — he has collected $26.5 million to date — could help give him staying power in what is sure to be a hard-fought battle for the GOP nomination. The structure of his donor base closely resembles that of President Obama, whose vaunted fundraising operation intensely focused on low-dollar givers as well as major bundlers, bringing in a record $783 million for his 2012 reelection.

Cruz has had trouble making inroads in New York financial circles or on Florida’s donor-rich Gold Coast. But he is finding support among like-minded constitutionalists, religious conservatives, and oil and gas executives, campaign finance filings and fundraising invitations show.

“A lot of Wall Street is out of touch with mainstream America,” Cruz’s wife, Heidi — who is on leave from her job as a managing director at Goldman Sachs and is one of his most prolific fundraisers — said recently. “That’s not our funding base.”

The senator is a different person in private fundraisers than out on the campaign trail, according to people who have observed the dynamic. He doesn’t back away from his hard-line positions, but he quickly moves past them, trying to present a restrained, Harvard-educated lawyer.

“People are swayed by his intellect,” said Mica Mosbacher, a Houston fundraiser helping organize events for Cruz across the country. “He always says, ‘Ask me all the hard questions.’ And he is very polite and humble. I think the firebrand you see [in public] is his passion getting ahead of him. Those who are supporting him admire that he will stand up for what’s right.”

A Republican strategist well connected to the donor world added: “When he’s with major donors, they expect the guy they see with all the red meat, but they instead see an intelligent but toned-down lawyer with real bona fides. He will say things like, basically, ‘This is politics — you’ve got go out there and sell and perform.’ ”

At a recent fundraiser in New York, Cruz made the case that he is the candidate to unite a fractious Republican Party, arguing that he can energize evangelicals, tea partyers, military hawks and fiscal conservatives.

“His feeling — and I agree with him — is that you cannot make one segment love you and another segment hate you,” said venture capitalist Ken Abramowitz, who hosted the gathering. “He stressed that he would appeal to all the segments but still maintain his message.”

Shmuley Boteach, a New Jersey rabbi and former congressional candidate, has been introducing Cruz to members of the Jewish community in New York and Los Angeles. Boteach said Cruz is diplomatic when it comes to hot-button issues — such as the time Boteach told the senator he has a gay brother and doesn’t think he should speak so stridently against same-sex marriage.

“He’ll respond very respectfully and say, ‘Okay, Shmuley, we respectfully disagree,’ ” Boteach said. “I do not find him dogmatic about it. . . . When you get to know the guy, he’s measured. This is a Princeton, Harvard graduate.”

It’s a different scene on the campaign trail, where Cruz’s fiery jabs have helped him amass a large pool of enthusiastic small donors. By the end of September, he had raised the second-largest amount in low-dollar contributions among the GOP field: $9.9 million to retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s $18.2 million.

Overall, Cruz has the most balanced mix of donors among all the Republican hopefuls. Of the $24.5 million he has raised for the primary race, 40 percent has come from contributors who have given him $200 or less, 25 percent from those who have given $201 to $999, 13 percent from those who have given $1,000 to $2,699, and 21 percent from those who have given the $2,700 maximum, according to the Campaign Finance Institute.

Obama, by comparison, raised 28 percent of his 2012 donations from people who gave $200 or less and 22 percent from max-out donors.

It remains to be seen whether Cruz, who is hovering around 8 percent in national polls, will gain enough momentum to scale donations up as dramatically as Obama did in his campaigns.

Cruz has long said that his successful 2012 Senate run (and now his presidential bid) attempted to emulate Obama’s 2008 election tactics. Cruz gave Senate campaign staffers a copy of “The Audacity to Win,” a book written by Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe.

“When it comes to fundraising, I think one of the greatest surprises, from the perspective of the Washington chattering class, has been the incredible, astonishing fundraising that this campaign has benefited from,” Cruz said Monday in Houston, where he announced that six wealthy supporters of former Texas governor Rick Perry are now backing him.

Among them were Deason, who gave $5 million to a pro-Perry super PAC in June, and Dallas tax consultant G. Brint Ryan, who donated $250,000. Such high-capacity supporters could inject huge sums into a group of super PACs supporting Cruz, which reported raising $38 million by the end of June.

Campaign finance filings show that more than half of Cruz’s max-out donations are coming from his home state, Texas, where he is methodically bringing longtime backers of Perry and the Bush family into his fundraising network.

Houston real estate developer Welcome Wilson Sr. was supporting Perry until he dropped out of the race. He has close ties to the Bush family — his son Welcome Wilson Jr. went to school with Jeb Bush — but said he was convinced that the senator from Texas could best capture the imagination of the voters now considering Donald Trump.

“Their support comes from the same type of people — the people who want a change,” Wilson said.

Mosbacher, whose late husband, Robert Mosbacher, served as commerce secretary under George H.W. Bush, considers herself more of an “establishment type.” She decided to back Cruz because she is convinced that he can win.

Cruz’s wife, Heidi, has also been a key asset, said Mosbacher, pinch-hitting at fundraisers when her husband gets stuck in Washington. At one recent breakfast in Houston, she was so effective that she won over attendees who had not yet committed to the campaign.

“I was very surprised who wrote checks,” Mosbacher said. “They weren’t sure about Ted Cruz until they met Heidi.”

Heidi Cruz has said she made 600 fundraising calls in the second quarter, typically reaching 20 to 25 people a day.

“I don’t want to say it’s easy, and I don’t close every deal,” she said last month. “I think people want to be a part of something that addresses the main issue of the day, number one, which is Washington versus the people.”

She has even been reaching out to bundlers who are already backing other candidates. Andrew Sabin, a Jeb Bush supporter who has had the Cruz family to his Long Island home and supported Cruz’s Senate campaign, said she gave him a call this month.

“I love his wife,” Sabin said — but he told Heidi Cruz that he is “100 percent” with Bush.

Others are coming over. Chart Westcott, a Dallas biotech investor, switched his allegiance to Cruz after his first choice, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, dropped out of the race.

Westcott, who supported Cruz’s Senate bid, said he was pleased to hear the granular details of how Cruz’s team is playing the long game and placing a “laserlike” focus on amassing delegates, a pitch that campaign officials also made at the recent donor retreat in Park City.

Westcott is also impressed by Cruz’s ability to draw in both large- and small-dollar donors.

“I think when you look at the financial shape of all the campaigns,” Westcott said, “Cruz has proven himself to be a powerhouse on both sides of the ledger.”

What GOP fundraisers are looking for

They Who Must be Obeyed

They Who Must be Obeyed

The women who rule Houston rule the world

By: John-Paul Flintoff, March 18, 2003

(Houston, Texas) – A rainy night in January. Shortly before 7pm, limos start to block the entrance to the Corinthian ballroom. Some of the best dressed women in Texas, accompanied by rather less flamboyant men in tuxedos, step out of the cars, into the beautifully restored building, and up the marble stairs, to take part in tonight’s Winter Ball, one of the most important events in Houston’s social calendar.

At the top of the stairs, they are greeted by a line of white-jacketed waiters, press photographers and cameramen from Channel 13, whose coverage of tonight’s event will be aired the following Sunday. Each taking a flute of ice-cold champagne, they wander through the hall past tables laden with items for auction: candlesticks encrusted with Swarovski crystals; made-to-measure suits from Saks Fifth Avenue; a vast Texan barbecue; and an inscribed copy of former president George Bush’s book, All the Best, which though listed as “priceless” has attracted an opening bid of $100…………..

Shelby Hodge, society columnist on the Houston Chronicle, says of Becca: “No one in this town throws a party like she does.” In particular, Hodge commends “the scale of the decor, and the orchestration of the guest list”. As one of the few American members of the Prince of Wales’s Foundation, raising money for English architectural restoration, Becca rubs shoulders with Forbeses, Rockefellers and Trumps. Also known as TriBecca, for her habit of changing costume three times at each party, she has recently entertained designers such as Diane von Furstenberg, the Bush family, Lynn Wyatt and a couple whose names I find on the guest lists for all the most important functions: Robert and Mica Mosbacher.

Before leaving Houston, I decide I must visit the Mosbachers, who married less than three years ago. If any couple combines social cachet with oil money and political connections, it’s the former secretary of commerce and his young wife. Robert Mosbacher has known George Bush Snr for decades, and served in his administration. In 1999, to celebrate George and Barbara’s 75th and 74th birthdays, respectively, Robert and Mica threw one of the biggest parties ever seen in Houston: top tables cost $100,000 More recently, Mica co-hosted, with Lynn Wyatt, a party for the British ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer.

I ask Lynn for help, and get myself a date to visit the Mosbachers at their new home. When the appointed hour arrives, Mica is there to greet me at the gates of the house, in one of the most exclusive streets in River Oaks. Over generous glasses of wine, we chat in the library, and are soon joined by her husband. Like the former president, Robert was born in the east of the US, and attracted to Texas by the prospect of making his fortune in oil. (“You can drill just one well,” he says, with a twinkle in his eye, “having borrowed just a little money, and then you can be a millionaire. It’s the epitome of the chance to get rich quick.”) He found the southern state to be a place that welcomed newcomers. “Unlike eastern society, there was no established hierarchy. Anyone can make it. It’s more about what you have done than who you are.” Having achieved his dream, he went into government, then returned to the oil business, not only as a consultant for Enron, but also working for himself. He still keeps an office downtown, and the first thing he does in the morning, according to Mica, is to check the price of oil.

In the past, he says, there were countless oil companies in Texas, many of them, like his own, run by individuals or families. “There are very few left. We’re like the last of the Mohicans.” The ethos of the industry has hardened. “In those days, you would do business on a handshake. Your word was your bond.” Regrettably, that’s no longer the case, as can be seen by the fraudulent practices at Enron.

Robert Mosbacher thinks it is merely coincidental that so many powerful Americans have links with Houston’s oil industry. But he would say that. Nor is it surprising that he defends his old friend Ken Lay, who lived until recently in a mansion nearby. “People here were horrified by what happened at Enron,” he says. “But remember that Enron and Ken Lay contributed a lot to the community.” (At the Winter Ball, standing beside the items for auction, I hear one woman ask another, in a tone that can only be described as funereal: “So, how are things going at Enron?” But Lay himself remains respected on the charity circuit, and has even been greeted with standing ovations just for showing up at black-tie events.)

My conversation with the Mosbachers does range slightly beyond business and politics. At one point, Mica tells me, with relish, about a legendary pair of Houstonian socialites who shot or poisoned their husbands. In response. Robert raises an eyebrow: “I’m not sure I like the trend of this conversation.” Guessing that it’s time to leave, I take another look around the newly decorated room, and notice that, though few books have been stacked on the shelves, a couple of photos have been put up in places of honour. One shows Robert and Mica standing on either side of a woman in a glamorous outfit: America’s First Lady, Laura Bush. She has inscribed the picture with a loving message.

The other photograph is a group shot, showing a bunch of anonymous-looking guys, much like the interchangeable gentlemen in tuxedos at the Winter Ball, massively outshone by their glamorous wives and girlfriends. The difference is that this group is dressed for quail hunting. But, like the men at the ball, they’re no ordinary bunch. Standing around in a clearing in southern Texas, they include a former secretary of state, a former ambassador, a former secretary of commerce and a former president of the United States. Studying their faces, I conclude that hunting quail must constitute light relief from affairs of state and the commercial imperatives of oil – converging, right now, in the war on Iraq. Not forgetting the high-powered networking through which they are guided by their wives, Houston’s women of distinction.

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Iceland Volcano No Match for Mica Mosbacher

Houstonian Michele “Mica” Mosbacher was named honorary consul to Iceland in January and confirmed in March. The position mostly involves promoting culture and trade opportunities and protecting the rights of Icelanders in the Houston area. Little did Mosbacher know it would place her in the center of the action when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which had erupted in late March, entered an explosive phase that released a huge cloud of ash on April 14.

Q: I hear you had quite a trip to Iceland recently.

A: I went to Reykjavík to the briefings at the foreign ministry, which is the equivalent of our State Department, to understand what my responsibilities would be in this capacity. One of the briefings that I had was on search-and-rescue and evacuation procedures.

Q: You didn’t know how handy that would be.

A: They kind of joked with me. They said, “Well, you’re not living in Haiti or Chile, so I don’t think you need to worry too much about this.” And I asked if it was safe to go to the southern part of Iceland to see this famous resort. It’s called the Hotel Ranga, and it’s the only Michelin four-star resort in Iceland. It’s well known for salmon fishing expeditions, and it’s on the River Ranga, which is about 25 miles west of the volcano.

The ambassador’s wife said to me, “Oh, we’re referring to that volcanic eruption as a tourist eruption, and it’s kaput. You have nothing to worry about.” So I hired a guide, and we drove to the Hotel Ranga. Most of the media were leaving that day. The hotel was capitalizing on the (March) eruption and offering tours, which was kind of enterprising of them.

The next morning around 3 a.m., someone from search-and-rescue woke up the hotel manager to tell him the volcano was erupting, that they were evacuating the farmers in the countryside near the volcano. When we heard about it, we thought he was joking.

When I came downstairs to breakfast, there was a lot of excitement. They had moved in the coast guard and moved in search-and-rescue and several helicopters. Someone had already been up that morning in the helicopter and said, “I’ve never seen a glacier melt like this. Water is rushing onto the road, flooding the area.” They sent in a crew to divert the road — to actually destroy the road and move it away from the bridge; there was only one main artery — so that the water would take the path of least resistance and flow into the ocean.

They grounded all air traffic, including helicopters, until about 7 that evening, and then they allowed one helicopter up … so that the foreign minister could survey it. The volcano was very quiet at that point. It had stopped erupting, at least temporarily. I was up in the air so I could see firsthand what the countryside looked like.

Q: What was it like up there?

A: I had an NBC cameraman with us and the guide and one of my colleagues and then a very experienced search-and-rescue pilot. We were very close to the volcano at that point. It was flowing east, so we stayed west. It was relatively quiet, and then all of a sudden it began erupting; and it was that particular eruption that stopped all the air traffic in Europe. It looked like a nuclear explosion.

And the winds picked up and the helicopter started swaying. I have a pretty funny picture — clearly the expression on my face is “get me out of here.” I was motioning to the pilot to wrap it up, but he thought I meant to circle again. He misinterpreted my hand signals.

So there were five of us in the world that watched it erupt, and when we went back to the lodge, they put up another air stop, and no one was allowed up.

Q: Were you then stuck at the hotel? 

A: Well, we made the decision — because of the magnitude of this volcano — that it might be prudent to drive back to Reykjavík, which is west and on the coast, where we would be out of harm’s way at that point. And we were lucky. The next day there was an Icelandair plane on the ground. The airport was a ghost town, but there was one plane on the ground, and it was able to fly to New York, because that was going west.

So I ended up in New York, and I visited with the consul general. Those of us who represented Iceland were a little worried that frustrated passengers would start making us the unwitting scapegoats for the travel disruption.

Q: Have you been back since then?

A: No. I plan to go back in August. I’m hoping I can go back to the hotel where this wonderful fishing lodge is. Unfortunately, at this point the ground is just covered in ash and the sky is still very hazy, so I know they’re extremely worried about their tourist business, but it does look like the volcano is calming down.

One thing I forgot to mention: The guide that I had with me had planned for us to go trekking on the glacier where the volcano is. At breakfast he pulled out a map and said, “We have a problem. You are here, and we were going to go there.” He pointed to the volcano on the map and said, “I don’t think we’ll be going glacier trekking today.”

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Mica Featured in Society Diaries Magazine!

Mica was recently featured in the January-February edition of Society Diaries Magazine!

Houstonian Mica Mosbacher is a force with which to be reckoned. Her passions drive her. Literally. She has an affinity for professional motorsports racing with her family’s Godstone Ranch Motorsports, a team that competes in the Grand Am class to raise awareness for the American Heart Association campaign Hands-Only CPR.

As an Honorary Consul of Iceland, Houston and Central Texas that complements her Scandinavian roots, Mica’s position involves promoting Icelandic culture and trade opportunities, as well as protecting the rights of Icelandic citizens. She’s also a recent recipient of the Order of St, John, appointed by Her Majesty The Queen, which supports the St. John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem.  Here Lance Avery Morgan catches up with her to learn more about what makes her heart race, too…

For the full article, visit the website.

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