Blimp Asks: Who Is Ron Paul? Campaign Finance Experts Ask If Plan is Legal

The Trail reports that the Ron Paul blimp is off the ground. Libertarians have often contemplated unorthodox methods of finance including the fictional Delos D. Harriman’s attempt to raise money to go to the moon in Robert A. Heinlein’s novella The Man Who Sold the Moon. Among the methods used by Harriman was to bluff businessmen with claims of offers of money from competitors to turn the moon into a giant billboard. Supporters of Ron Paul also use a profit model but use a blimp instead of the moon as billboard. The blimp features a message similar to the catch phrase of another libertarian classic, Atlas Shrugged as it asks, “Who is Ron Paul.” The unconventional financing is described:

The blimp is being run by Liberty Political Advertising, a for-profit company formed just for this purpose. The company is offering Paul supporters the chance to sponsor portions of the blimp’s journey, ranging from $10 for one minute of “air time” to $1 million for 10 weeks. On the Ron Paul blimp’s Web site, the organizers describe this arrangement “the best of both worlds, no limits and virtually no regulations.”

“The ad is on a blimp, but you can also think of it as a floating billboard,” the group’s website says. “It will fly for six hours per day generating advertising and publicity while on the ground as well as in the air. Blimp sponsors, the local media and nearby residents will be able to gather at landing sites to tour the blimp. Those with tickets will board for rides. Informal blimp parties will be organized at scheduled stops around the country as the blimp makes its way to key destinations for maximum public exposure.”

Bradley Smith, a former FEC chairman, is representing the group and says the for-profit arrangement is no different than if a company formed to sell t-shirts or coffee mugs with a candidate’s name on it. Each contributor to the effort would be making his or her own independent expenditure. If that contribution is greater than $250, the donor will have to report it to the FEC. But there are no limits under this plan.

The FEC might not agree that there are no limits:

That is not sitting well with some campaign finance experts. Fred Wertheimer, who runs the campaign finance advocacy group Democracy 21, said if the point of the enterprise is to influence the presidential race, it should be set up as a political action committee. That would not only mean disclosing the names of the donors, but limiting individuals to no more than $5,000 in contributions in one year.

“Is this a legitimate advertising company operating in the normal course of business. or is it a sham operation created to evade the campaign finance laws by posing as an advertising company?” Wertheimer asked. “That’s the issue here.”

Campaign finance expert Rick Hasen, who teaches at Loyola Law School in California. said he agrees, and expects the Federal Election Commission will look into just that question. But probably not before the blimp gets aloft.

Paul supporters also plan to go to Boston to reenact the Boston Tea Party and hold a rally at Faneuil Hall.


  1. 1
    Galileo says:

    sounds like some ron paul haters have a little sour grades. Am I suppose to start crying for them?

  2. 2
    Duane Johnson says:

    Ron Paul is more than just a “libertarian” in the Republican party–he is one of a handful of honest politicians leading America. It’s no wonder that so many people of varying backgrounds can ally themselves together for his cause: this is a message from everyone who believes in principles, and especially those principles established by the founders of the nation.

    Voting for Ron Paul is like sending a patriot missile into the heart of big, corrupt government.

  3. 3
    Mark says:

    As critical as I’ve been of Paul supporters of late, I think they’re on the side of the angels with this one. Regardless of whether the campaign pans out, if it gets brough before the FEC it will have one of two very positive effects:
    1. The Paulites win, in which case some of the more odious free speech effects of BCRA become severely weakened; or
    2. The Paulites lose, in which case the odiousness of BCRA comes into clearer focus. Sure, they’re violating the spirit of the law; but I’m not so sure they’re violating the letter of the law under either Buckley or McConnell.

  4. 4
    Erin says:

    If I pimp my ride for Ron Paul, in order to “influence the Presidential race”, and the cost is more than $5000, am I violating campaign finance law?

  5. 5
    perk23 says:

    Ron Paul is not a libertarian regarding religion. In his 2003 “War on Religion” article, he writes, “The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers.”

    Thomas Jefferson as president in 1802 wrote in a letter to the Danbury Baptists regarding the 1st amendment, “…….BUILDING A WALL OF SEPARATION BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE.”

    Read Ron Paul’s “War on Religion” and see if you think he is a libertarian or if he wants to impose some flavor of Christian views through public means. (

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:


    Yes, I’ve had several posts on this. He’s also written that the founding fathers intended to create a Christian nation and has supported a school prayer amendment. He’s also supported the federal ban on “partial birth” abortions and legislation to negate state laws which differentiate between a zygote and fully developed human. Paul supports the Constitution and state’s rights as long as they support his views but otherwise he ignores these principles.

    Paul is far more a paleoconservative than a libertarian. His denial of the importance of separation of church and state, along with his views on state’s rights, including the denial of the extension of Constitutional rights to the states under the 14th Amendment would result in less freedom as opposed to more freedom in much of the country.

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