A Friday filing with the Federal Election Commission shows that Sidney Powell, the Texas lawyer and conspiracy theorist so extreme that Donald Trump’s campaign fired her, has launched a new super PAC which will allow her to raise an unlimited amount of money and put it towards virtually any political cause — including paying herself. The PAC, called “Restore the Republic,” lists its physical address as a UPS dropbox about half an hour from the former president’s residence Mar-a-Lago.
Powell rode her ludicrous allegations about election fraud to international notoriety in November, joining the Trump campaign’s “elite strike force” alongside former LifeLock spokesperson Rudy Giuliani and legal adviser Jenna Ellis. Her off-the-wall performance at a now-infamous Nov. 19 press conference, where she declared, among other things, that voting machines across the country had been rigged on behalf of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez (who died in 2013), drew so much backlash that the Trump campaign cut her loose. Powell was back in the White House weeks later, however, with Trump floating her as a possible special counsel tasked with investigating his election defeat.
Only last week, Powell finally withdrew her fabled “Kraken” lawsuit, an incomprehensible and error-riddled unified theory of fraud in Georgia’s election that likely did more to indoctrinate and radicalize Trump supporters than any other legal case made by the campaign. The withdrawal came days after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reminded Powell that she hadn’t been admitted to practice law in that state.
The suit, along with Powell’s ceaseless promotion of its baseless claims, prompted voting machine manufacturer Dominion to sue the Texas lawyer for $1.3 billion in damages. Considered in that light, a super PAC is the natural choice for a nationally shunned attorney with a crazed fan base, who now faces untold expenses.
The Restore the Republic PAC’s treasurer, Jesse Binnall, also represented the Trump campaign in its post-election litigation, by way of Trump’s Washington law firm, Harvey Binnall. The FEC filing lists Harvey Binnall’s main switchboard number as the contact number for Binnall, and for Powell as well. The firm did not reply to questions about the apparently new affiliation.
Neither Binnall nor Powell, whose firm is in Texas, appear to have Florida connections, and it is not entirely clear why they chose to locate their super PAC in West Palm Beach. Trump, however, is in need of counsel for his upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate, and has shown an appreciation for Powell. The PAC’s name, Restore the Republic, might suggest that its mission involves returning Trump or members of his administration to power.
Super PACs can function as for-profit fundraising vehicles that don’t have to make clear promises on how they spend their money, beyond the prohibition on direct contributions to political committees. Executives and founders can use PAC funds to pay themselves, and can even obscure those payments in reports.
“If you are a consultant who is part of the control group that forms a super PAC or one of these nonprofits, then you get to figure out how you are going to compensate yourself, and it is not always a matter of public record,” former FEC chair Trevor Potter told the K Street blog in 2018.
Some super PACs hide those payments in consulting or fundraising fees transferred to companies operated by the PAC owners or their friends. It can be difficult to tease out the true recipient of those funds.
Trump himself started a PAC after the November election, called Save America, and began directing campaign donations to its account almost immediately. It is unclear how he plans to use the money.