U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has transferred $250,000 to the Republican Party of Kentucky as a down payment on the presidential caucuses he has asked the party to conduct in March, he told members of the state party's central committee in an email Monday.
Paul is seeking the party's help in bypassing a state law that prohibits him from running for president and for re-election to his Senate seat on the same ballot next year. He wrote to the party's state central committee, which has nearly 350 members, in an effort to quell concern about the cost of a caucus.
In his email, Paul repeated his promise that he "will fully fund this caucus."
"I wanted to formally ask you once again to vote for this plan," he wrote. "Before you do, I wanted you to hear straight from me about the plan to fund it."
Paul said "numbers aren't 100 percent final," but estimates put the cost of a caucus at $400,000 to $500,000.
In addition to the $250,000 payment, Paul said he would "raise or transfer" $200,000 more "at a date agreed upon by my team and RPK, roughly midfall after all the budgets and rules are finalized, the RNC (Republican National Committee) accepts our plan, the caucus is an absolute legal certainty and the funds are shown to be needed."
Additionally, Paul said he expected that $150,000 to $225,000 would be raised by charging every presidential candidate who wants to participate in the caucus a $15,000 filing fee.
"As you can see, this requires a lot of funds and effort by my team and myself," Paul wrote. "We are ready to do it right now, and with your vote on Aug. 22, we will all move forward, together."
Paul said "very little" of the funding he has provided would be needed in August, "but I wanted to make sure there was plenty in there as we move forward."
It was unclear Monday whether Paul transferred the $250,000 from his presidential campaign or that of his U.S. Senate re-election.
The big question facing Paul is whether his funding plan will be enough to quiet concerns of committee members who have been worried that they could end up holding the bag if costs exceed what Paul has pledged to provide.
Scott Lasley, chairman of the Warren County Republican Party and leader of the special committee that drafted proposed rules for the caucus, said Monday he thought the $250,000 payment was "a good start."
But Lasley said he thought committee members would want to know more specifics about when Paul would provide additional money and what would trigger those payments.
"It starts to bring some clarity, but there are still a couple of loose ends that I would be interested in following up on," Lasley said.
In his email, Paul said he wanted to fund the caucus "on a schedule that makes sense legally and financially."
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said he was "skeptical" of the caucus idea, told reporters Monday after an event in Georgetown that Paul "has indicated he's going to do what he had told me he was going to do earlier, which is to make sure that the cost of the caucus was defrayed."
"And it seems to me that's what he's committed to doing, and I'm pleased to continue to support the caucus," McConnell said.
When asked if he was concerned about the effect that low participation rates could have on the state party as a whole, McConnell said, "We've never done it before, which is why I was skeptical about it.
"But we wanted to do him a favor and allow him to compete for the presidency, and so as long as he picks up the cost, that's what we're going to do."
Paul's funding plan comes two days after he began an effort to recruit volunteers to work at caucus locations, a point of contention between committee members who drafted the proposal and Paul's team.
Committee members have said they wanted the cost of paid staffers for caucus locations included in cost estimates, but Paul's team thinks there will be plenty of volunteers.
On Saturday, while the senator was performing eye surgeries in Haiti, Paul sent an email to supporters asking them to sign a caucus volunteer form.
"It would be a one-day-only event, and we would make sure you are well trained and prepared," Paul wrote.