When John Ramsey came into his substantial inheritance, he was still a college student. But he didn't use the money to party - instead he became an angel investor in Liberty for All, a libertarian Super Pac. Bob spoke with Ramsey about putting up his own money to support down-ticket libertarian candidates.
BOB GARFIELD: Politics is regarded as a rich man’s game, but it can also be a rich kid’s game. All that’s required is the will and the means. In Kentucky’s 4th District congressional primaries this year, an outside SuperPAC spent more than a half million dollars to make Thomas Massey, a libertarian-leaning candidate, a winner. Here’s an ad from the Super PAC.
ANNOUNCER: Thomas Massey has a blueprint that will bring jobs back. Thomas Massey, a conservative who will walk the walk. Liberty for All SuperPAC is responsible for the content of this advertising.
BOB GARFIELD: The money behind the ad does not come from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads Super PAC. That one’s not big on libertarians. No, the money behind that Massey ad came primarily from a 22-year-old spending his inheritance. John Ramsey describes himself as an angel investor for Liberty for All, a Super PAC focused on promoting down-ticket libertarian candidates across the country.
JOHN RAMSEY: I wanted to see an organization that was there to facilitate a conversation, to show voters they now have a choice, because Republicans and Democrats, they are uniquely the same, it seems. You know, they’re - both are very pro war. They both spend a lot of money. They both borrow a lot of money. We got to be real, Bob. We’re – we’re broke.
BOB GARFIELD: Well, where did the money come from, to begin with, that enabled you to, to go about underwriting this Super PAC?
JOHN RAMSEY: Yes sir, so I’m very fortunate to come from a detailed family business background. My grandfather and I, I was very close to him from a young age. He passed away two years back, you know, leaving my siblings and I responsible for what he had amassed.
BOB GARFIELD: You plan to build an organization to support many a candidate. You started with a guy named Thomas Massey, who was running for a congressional seat in Kentucky. How did Liberty for All decide to make him the test case?
JOHN RAMSEY: The process that Liberty for All goes through to vet candidates is, first of all, do they match our values and, second of all, can they win? Yeah, I mean, it would be nice to go after, you know, someone like Nancy Pelosi, but that – that’s not gonna happen. I wanted to be able to take to investors a track record of success and, therefore, it’d be much more likely for them to want to invest their time and money with us.
So I quickly, after Thomas Massey’s race, our next target we got involved was in the Michigan 11th with a man named Kerry Bentivolio. That’s two victories that we’ve been primarily accountable for this cycle.
BOB GARFIELD: Are your folks like down with this? I mean, did anyone say, you’re gonna – you’re gonna do what, with – with Grandpa’s money – you’re gonna do what? Did you go through that?
JOHN RAMSEY: Some people close to me were like, hey, you’re gonna be associating yourself with special interests, the big corporate lobbyists. You know, do you really want to be associated with those people? And, you know, I said, you know, I – I understand where you’re coming from with the special interests, but we want – I’m, I’m looking to build an organization that represents the special interests of the American people. But honestly, I didn’t build anything special, Bob. It was built by the American values of civil liberties and economic freedom that helps us be sustainable here.
BOB GARFIELD: You’re speechifying. I want to know whether your parents got mad at you for squandering Grandpa’s inheritance.
JOHN RAMSEY: No, not at all. For me to be able to spend this kind of money to enhance the goodness of mankind and to – being sincere about electing true freedom candidates to office, they’re – they’re very supportive of that.
BOB GARFIELD: Now, you’re from East Texas. You’re not from the 4th District of Kentucky. Residents of the 4th District of Kentucky were minding their own business when all of a sudden in parachutes this Super PAC from out of state and essentially spends Massey into office. Do you think they have a grievance about carpetbaggers coming in and trying to influence their election?
JOHN RAMSEY: Well, I don’t think so. The organization came in and facilitated a conversation. They identified – information is key in this situation, and I mean it’s not like we came in and were bribing anyone to do anything. It’s just facilitating a conversation and coming in and actually pointing out the truth.
BOB GARFIELD: Thank you very, very much.
JOHN RAMSEY: Thanks Bob, it’s a pleasure.
BOB GARFIELD: John Ramsey is a college student taking time off from Steven F. Austin State University to be an angel investor in Liberty for All.