05-21-2018  5:41 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

3 high school seniors die in crash weeks before graduation

YONCALLA, Ore. (AP) — School officials say three senior girls were killed in a car crash on Interstate 5 in western Oregon, just weeks before graduation.Eagle Point High School said on its Facebook page that Luciana Tellez, Giselle Montano and Esmeralda Nava died Saturday night after their...

The Latest: Cougar that attacked cyclists was underweight

SEATTLE (AP) — The Latest on a cougar attack that killed one mountain biker and wounded another outside Seattle (all times local):4:10 p.m.Authorities say the cougar that attacked two cyclists east of Seattle, killing one of them, appears to have been emaciated.Washington Department of Fish...

Cyclists tried to scare cougar but it attacked, killing 1

SEATTLE (AP) — The two mountain bikers did what they were supposed to do when they noticed a mountain lion tailing them on a trail east of Seattle.They got off their bikes. They faced the beast, shouted and tried to spook it. After it charged, one even smacked the cougar with his bike, and...

The Latest: Cougar that attacked cyclists was underweight

SEATTLE (AP) — The Latest on a cougar attack that killed one mountain biker and wounded another outside Seattle (all times local):4:10 p.m.Authorities say the cougar that attacked two cyclists east of Seattle, killing one of them, appears to have been emaciated.Washington Department of Fish...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Native American lacrosse teams leagueless in South Dakota

Travis Brave Heart was planning to spend his senior season this spring and summer tuning up to play college lacrosse in the fall. Instead, the 17-year-old standout from Aberdeen, South Dakota, is faced with the prospect of not playing at all.His Lightning Stick Society team was one of three Native...

2018 midterms show start of Democratic scramble for 2020

ATLANTA (AP) — Look closely enough at the 2018 midterm campaign and you'll see the stirrings of a Democratic scramble to reclaim the White House from President Donald Trump.The leading players — from established national figures such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie...

Black women look to flex power in Georgia governor's race

ATLANTA (AP) — This week's primary election in Georgia presents black women voters with a rare opportunity: To give a Democrat who looks like them a chance at occupying the governor's mansion in a Republican-controlled state.A Democratic primary win Tuesday for Stacey Abrams or Stacey Evans...

ENTERTAINMENT

'Deadpool 2' ends Avengers' box-office reign, rakes in 5M

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Deadpool and his foul-mouthed crew of misfits and malcontents have taken down the Avengers.Fox's "Deadpool 2" brought in 5 million this weekend, giving it the second-highest opening ever for an R-rated movie and ending the three-week reign of Disney's "Avengers:...

Winners in the top categories at Billboard Music Awards

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A list of winners in the top categories at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards, held Sunday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.— Top Hot 100 song: "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber— Top Billboard 200 album: "DAMN." by...

The Latest: Janet Jackson honored at Billboard Awards

The Latest on the Billboard Music Awards (all times local):7:18 p.m.The youngest of the legendary Jackson musical family, Janet Jackson gave her first televised performance in nine years at the Billboard Music Awards.She was honored as the first black woman to receive the Billboard Icon Award on...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

School victims honored at Billboard Awards; Janet, BTS shine

The 2018 Billboard Music Awards paid tribute to the students and teachers affected by recent deadly shootings in...

Economic talks between US and China lead to trade war truce

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and China are pulling back from the brink of a trade war after the...

In North Korea nuke site closure, spectacle trumps substance

TOKYO (AP) — Foreign journalists will be allowed to journey deep into the mountains of North Korea this...

Abbas, 83-year-old Palestinian leader, still in hospital

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Palestinian president's condition has seen a "clear improvement" after he was taken to...

4 years after coup, Thailand wearies of junta rule

BANGKOK (AP) — Four years after seizing power, Thailand's junta has a singular success it never hoped for:...

Nurse dead in Congo as Ebola vaccination campaign starts

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — A nurse has died from Ebola in Bikoro, the rural northwestern town where the...

Republican Presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, campaigns at Penny's Diner in Missouri Valley, Iowa, Jan 4, 2016. Cruz and Marco Rubio are fighting for the favor of many of the same undecided voters across Iowa, where even some of the most attentive Republicans say they can’t make up their minds less than four weeks before voting begins. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)
JULIE BYKOWICZ, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four of America's wealthiest businessmen laid the foundation for Ted Cruz's now-surging Republican presidential campaign and have redefined the role of political donors.

With just over a week until voters get their first say, the 45-year-old Texas senator known as a conservative warrior has been ascendant. The $36 million committed last year by these donor families is now going toward television, radio and online advertisements, along with direct mailings and get-out-the-vote efforts in early primary states.

The donors' super political action committees sponsored rallies Saturday in Iowa featuring Cruz and conservative personality Glenn Beck. The state holds the leadoff caucuses on Feb. 1.

The long-believing benefactors are New York hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, Texas natural gas billionaires Farris and Dan Wilks, and private-equity partner Toby Neugebauer. They honed their plan to help Cruz before he began his steady rise in polls — even before he announced his presidential bid in March.

"No one wants to lose," Neugebauer told The Associated Press when asked why he and others bet big on Cruz. "We didn't miss that an outsider would win. I think we've nailed it."

Voters will soon start determining whether he is right.

The groundwork laid by Neugebauer and other major donors began roughly two years ago, first in a casual conversation with Cruz at a donor's home in Palm Beach, Florida, and then in a more formal way over the 2014 Labor Day weekend at Neugebauer's ranch in East Texas.

That October, big-data firm Cambridge Analytica — in which Mercer is an investor — began working to identify potential Cruz voters and develop messages that would motivate them. Alexander Nix, the company's chief executive officer, said the importance of this early work cannot be overstated. He credits Cruz for understanding this.

"Money never buys you time," Nix said, drawing from his experiences with campaigns worldwide. "Too often clients will come to you just before an election and expect you to work miracles. But you cannot roll back the clock."

Key donors soon came up with a novel arrangement: Each family would control its own super PAC, but the groups would work together as a single entity called Keep the Promise. They keep in touch through weekly strategy phone calls.

That's not how super PACs usually work. More typically, multiple donors turn over their money and leave the political decisions to professional strategists. For example, Jeb Bush's super PAC counts more than two dozen million-dollar donors.

For Cruz, the pool of really big donors is far more concentrated: Mercer gave $11 million, Neugebauer gave $10 million, and the Wilks brothers and their wives together gave $15 million.

That level of support has opened Cruz to criticism that donors are influencing his policies, whether on abortion, energy or the gold standard.

Ethanol advocates point to his oil and gas donors as the reason he wants to discontinue that government subsidy for the corn-based fuel. Cruz and the donors have dismissed that as nonsense. His campaign cites as evidence Cruz's desire to end handouts to all parts of the energy industry.
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A GOLDMAN SACHS INTRODUCTION
Neugebauer said his belief in the candidate is both personal and pragmatic. "My heart and my mind told me he's the one," he said.
Mercer and the Wilks brothers declined to be interviewed.

Neugebauer, 45, said he met Cruz years ago through Cruz's wife Heidi, then a manager at Goldman Sachs. He said he wants nothing in return if Cruz wins the presidency.

"I don't need. Bob Mercer doesn't need. The Wilkses don't need," he said. "That's not what this is about. We do not want our children and grandchildren to grow up in a bankrupt country."

Neugebauer co-founded Quantum Energy Partners, a private equity firm based in Houston. It invested heavily in shale development, which became lucrative with the advent of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking.

His father, Randy, is a Republican congressman from Texas.

In 2014, the younger Neugebauer moved his legal residency to Puerto Rico, saying he had done so primarily to expose his children to Spanish and become more worldly. The U.S. territory also provides key tax breaks that the mainland does not.
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FATHER AND DAUGHTER

The Mercer family has followed Cruz's rise in politics for years.
Fundraising records show that Mercer's daughter, Rebekah Mercer, took an early interest in Cruz's 2012 underdog campaign for the Senate. Her money arrived as Cruz was preparing to take on the state's lieutenant governor and well-funded Republican Party favorite, David Dewhurst, in the May primary.

The elder Mercer, 69, is a former computer programmer and co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, one of the country's largest hedge funds. Mercer, who lives on New York's Long Island, is intensely private. A review of his political investments provides some clues as to his policy interests.

He is a major donor to Republican groups, according to fundraising records, including entities run by the billionaire Koch brothers and Club for Growth, a Washington conservative economic group that backed Cruz's 2012 campaign. Mercer has attended conferences promoting a return to the gold standard in monetary policy, which Cruz advocates.
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THE BROTHERS
The Wilkses met and became fond of Cruz after his election to the Senate, and Neugebauer persuaded them over barbecue in the first months of 2015 to participate in the Keep the Promise plan.

Farris and Dan Wilks made their fortune in fracking, producing drilling equipment when few were in that business. They sold their company in 2011 and have since become the country's 15th biggest land owners, according to The Land Report magazine.

Farris Wilks is a pastor at a small church called Assembly of Yahweh, 7th Day, where his parents were founding members. Both brothers are fervently against abortion rights and gay marriage and say the country needs to embrace Christianity.

Cruz has pledged "outlaw" abortion and said the Supreme Court erred last year in making gay marriage the law of the land. The candidate and hundreds of religious leaders gathered last month at Farris Wilks' central Texas ranch, an event hosted by Keep the Promise.

Farris Wilks has said his investment in the Cruz super PAC is helping "educate" voters.

"He's not afraid to stand against some of his own party even and say things that need to be said," he said in a November interview with KTXS, a television station near their tiny hometown of Cisco, Texas.
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THE MONEY FLOW
Although these donors set aside their millions for Cruz 10 months ago, it's only now that the money is flowing into the 2016 race in a major way.
Since mid-December, the Keep the Promise super PACs have documented about $4 million in independent expenditures to help Cruz or attack other candidates — most often Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, federal election records show.

The super PACs have been identifying and connecting with Cruz voters through digital ads and door-knocking, and recently began a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign. A Keep the Promise van tailed the Cruz campaign bus as it made its way through Iowa last week. Super PAC workers handed out thousands of "Choose Cruz" yard signs.

For the megadonors, it's no surprise that Cruz seems to be well-positioned heading into the primaries. In mid-July, Keep the Promise posted on its website a slide-show presentation called "Can He Win?" The document predicted it would be "very difficult for Establishment to destroy the conservative challenger."
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Follow Julie Bykowicz on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/bykowiczCopyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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