Rick Perry Is Nowhere Near Where He Was in 2011

The former Texas governor's first campaign disclosure report was not as strong as that of the last election cycle.

The last time Rick Perry ran for president, his campaign hauled in $17 million in his first six weeks as a candidate, from about 22,000 donors nationwide. This time around, a few weeks into his campaign, those figures are considerably smaller.

In his first filing with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday, the Perry campaign reported just $1.1 million in donations from roughly 600 individual donors and one PAC, the Texas Freedom Fund. About 280 of those individuals contributed the maximum amount allowed, $2,700.

While his campaign coffers may not be full, pro-Perry super PACs have seen significant donation action. Perry has the backing of several exorbitantly wealthy donors, including Darwin Deason, a Dallas-based billionaire who sold his IT company to Xerox for $6.5 billion several years ago. Deason has already written a $5 million check to at least one pro-Perry super PAC—just $1 million short of the total given by another of Perry's wealthy backers, energy executive Kelcy Warren.

According to Wednesday's filings, Warren hasn't yet contributed to the Perry campaign, but Deason certainly has: Shortly after Perry announced his candidacy, Deason donated $2,700. So did his wife, Katerina, son Doug, and daughter-in-law Holly.

More than half of the Perry campaign's quarterly spending went toward Abstract Communications, LLC—a communications firm based in Buda, Texas—for "strategy consulting." Perry's campaign paid the firm $391,000, and the company donated $55,000 to Perry's campaign in return.

Perry's campaign also gave $76,000 to Targeted Victory, a digital-strategy firm founded by Mitt Romney's former digital director, Zac Moffatt, for online ads and Web consulting. The campaign gave $20,000 to ID Media Partners, a communications firm, for "website development." In all, 81 percent of Perry's campaign spending this quarter went toward communications and strategy consulting firms.

One interesting nugget from Perry's report: an innocuous-looking payment to an aviation business. The Perry campaign spent nearly $60,000 on airfare through the Houston-based Friedkin Aviation. Perry has some history with Dan Friedkin, the purveyor of Friedkin Aviation. He has a net worth of $2.5 billion, making him the 26th wealthiest Texan as of 2013. Along with his father, Friedkin has donated more than $900,000 to Perry in the past.

In 2011, an FEC filing showed that Perry's campaign "had not properly compensated Friedkin's aviation company for more than $45,000 in flight time on a private jet," Texas Monthly reported in 2013. "Earlier that same year, Perry had named Friedkin the chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission."