Rick Perry resumes paying some staffers, but loses Iowa chairman

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Rick Perry’s presidential campaign said Monday it had started to again pay some staffers who lost their salaries earlier this month amid sluggish fundraising — but the operation’s Iowa director has already moved on.

Sam Clovis, who served as Perry’s Iowa state chairman, said he was leaving because the campaign was in transition and future compensation was uncertain. He also insisted, though, that it was about more than the money.

“I don’t want this to be anything negative at all,” Clovis said. “They’ve got to transition from campaign mode to where the super PAC comes in and picks up some of that slack. The governor is a remarkable man and I’ve been honored to be part of his campaign.”

Clovis said he had not heard from the campaign in some time and did not know what its plans were. He was not ready to talk about his next move.

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Struggling to stay relevant in a crowded Republican field after formally kicking off his bid in early June, Perry announced raising about $1 million during the first month. That sparked a cash crunch severe enough for the campaign to stop paying its small staffs in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — which open presidential primary voting — as well as at headquarters in Texas.

Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said in a statement that despite Clovis’ leaving, Perry remains “committed to competing in Iowa, as well as South Carolina and New Hampshire, and there are many people across the country who continue to work to elect Rick Perry as president.” She added that the campaign wished Clovis well.

Nashed confirmed hours later Monday that the campaign has “started putting people back on payroll” in Iowa and South Carolina. She declined to say how many.

Perry’s campaign had said previously that most staffers were willing to remain with the campaign as volunteers — sentiment Clovis himself had echoed two weeks ago before divulging his departure Monday.

Perry’s senior Iowa strategist, Robert Haus, said the campaign was currently restructuring the Iowa staff, which originally numbered 10 people, including Clovis. Haus declined to say what the Iowa operation would look like until that process concludes at the end of the week.

Haus said he was confident about Perry’s chances and pledged to “stay with the campaign in whatever capacity they wish to have me.”

Despite his fundraising woes, outside super PACs supporting Perry have amassed almost $17 million. The groups aren’t allowed to coordinate directly with Perry’s campaign, but have hired their own Iowa staff and can continue to get his message out there and elsewhere.

Austin Barbour, the Republican operative who leads the outside groups, said late Monday that they were paying for Perry TV ads that would hit Iowa’s statewide airwaves the day after Labor Day.

Perry himself, meanwhile, has continued to campaign heavily in Iowa. He appeared last week at the State Fair, where he said fundraising had improved recently and said he could keep going with a “small footprint.”

Perry is also scheduled to visit South Carolina on Thursday for three days of events.

This is the second White House bid for Perry, who served 14 years as Texas governor, the longest in state history, before leaving office in January.

His 2012 presidential campaign started with great fanfare and strong fundraising, but collapsed quickly. Perry went from being a front-runner to an also-ran amid a series of gaffes and poor debate performances — most notably his “oops” moment, when he could only list two of the three federal agencies he said he would close if elected.

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