WASHINGTON -- The super PAC that hopes to spend $55 million on Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry's behalf is run by Mike Toomey, a long-time colleague and friend of the Texas governor. Perry's campaign is run by David Carney, a New Hampshire-based consultant.
The press has often mentioned that Toomey and Carney, who are not supposed to coordinate or even communicate due to federal election laws that govern super PACs, own an island on Lake Winnipesaukee together.
The island -- which The Huffington Post discovered is worth more than $3 million -- is not evidence of any wrongdoing, but is an outsized symbol of the fact that Make Us Great Again, Toomey's super PAC, is linked quite closely to the Perry campaign.
Until recently, it was possible to go online and look at rental listings for Parker Island, the 2.68-acre retreat in the southeast corner of the 69-square-mile lake that rented for $18,000 a week when Toomey and Perry were not using it. But within the last month, that website -- parkerisland.com -- has been taken down and now redirects to the state of New Hampshire's website.
However, the Parker Island site is still available on a web archive, which shows the 2,956-square-foot, four-bedroom Main House; the 2,040-square-foot, four-bedroom Guest House; and the auxiliary, 12-bed Boat House.
The island is owned by Parker Island, LLC, according to land records held by the town of Wolfeboro, N.H., which are available online. The corporation is registered in Austin, Texas at the same downtown high-rise -- a block from the state Capitol -- where Toomey has been listed on his lobbying registration form. The consulting company owned by Perry's speechwriter, Eric Bearse, is also listed at the same address, along with others.
The now-deleted website for the island listed Carney's wife, Lauren, as the point-of-contact for rental inquiries.
Neither Carney nor Toomey responded to inquiries about the website's disappearance. But the deletion of the site gives the impression that one of the two, or both, want to downplay the personal connection between the two of them.
Toomey has been by Perry's side longer, first working with him in 1985 when both were state representatives in the Texas legislature. Carney joined Perry's team during his run for lieutenant governor in 1998, and has managed every one of his campaigns for governor since then.
Toomey is a longtime Texan who became a lobbyist, served as Perry's chief of staff in the governor's office from 2002 to 2004 and then returned to lobbying. He was also the lobbyist who worked for Merck, the drug maker that stood to benefit from Perry's now infamous executive order that would have required junior-high girls in Texas public schools to receive a vaccination for the human papillomavirus (HPV), if the legislature had not overturned it. Since 2008, Toomey's clients have won $2 billion in state government contracts, according to a recent analysis by The New York Times and The Texas Tribune.
Carney is from New Hampshire and returned to the Granite State over a decade ago after spending several years in Washington, D.C. working for the George H.W. Bush White House and running Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign. Carney now lives just two hours from the lake island, but has maintained a formidable reputation as a national political consultant while remaining something of an outsider.
Little is known of the personal relationship between Toomey and Carney. But their shared ownership of the island is a significant symbol and points to the ties between Make Us Great Again and the Perry campaign. Most super PACs are similar in that they are run by people with close connections to others who work for the candidate they are supporting. The main super PAC backing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Restore Our Future, is run by former Romney operatives who worked for Romney's 2008 presidential bid, Charlies Spies and Carl Forti.
Super PACs are new entities, made possible by recent Supreme Court rulings -- primarily the 2010 Citizens United case -- to raise money in unlimited amounts and spend it on direct advocacy for a particular candidate. They must disclose their donors and cannot coordinate in any way with the official campaign of the candidate they are supporting.
While the existence of Toomey and Carney's island has been much remarked upon, the details of the ownership and the island's value have not been widely reported. Land records on file with the town of Wolfeboro show that the island is worth some $3,067,500, though that might be a low number since the Boat House shown on the former website is not listed anywhere on any of the forms online. Parker Island LLC bought both properties on the island on Nov. 16, 2005, for $2.6 million.
The larger of the two properties, the 1.46 acres on the north side that holds the Main House, was purchased for $1,730,000 and is now worth $2,051,900, according to the tax assessment. The house itself is listed as being worth $193,800, while the land is worth $1,761,500 and the boathouse, docks and gazebo are worth $96,600.
The smaller half of the island, 1.22 acres on the southern end that holds the Guest House, went for $870,000 in 2005 and is now worth $1,015,600. The house value is listed as $148,700. The land is valued at $855,500.
The Boat House is located on the eastern edge of the island in between the two other houses, and appears to be more of an overflow guest space, ideal for kids of extended family who come to stay at one of the two main houses. The picture of the Boat House on the now defunct site shows a large, two-story structure with a wide front porch.