A multi-millionaire businessman who recently moved to Indiana to run for an open seat in Congress is receiving a significant financial boost from his father, who is funding a super PAC targeting his son's leading GOP primary opponent with negative ads.
Joseph A. Hollingsworth Jr., the father of 32-year-old Trey Hollingsworth, is the sole donor to the Indiana Jobs Now super PAC and has contributed a total of $370,000 to the fund since January, according to a filing made Friday with the Federal Election Commission.
The super PAC has promoted Trey Hollingsworth, a Tennessee native who moved several months ago to southern Indiana's Ninth Congressional District, as a businessman, job creator and "conservative outsider." The ads have also derided state Attorney General Greg Zoeller as "another career politician."
Hollingsworth and Zoeller are facing off for the state's Ninth Congressional district seat, which is being vacated by U.S. Rep. Todd Young, a Republican who is running for Senate. Republican state Senators Erin Houchin and Brent Waltz are also running for the seat, which stretches from the south suburbs of Indianapolis down to the Ohio River and the Kentucky border.
Super PACs by law must not coordinate with the campaign of a candidate they are supporting. Zoeller told The Associated Press on Saturday that he would leave any determination on the legality of the super PAC to FEC regulators and added that the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Citizens United has made campaign financing "unknown territory" where there "there are no rules."
"He's made a lot of being an outsider which, in some respects, is deceptive," Zoeller told the AP. "He's an outsider to our community, state and Hoosier sensibility."
Candidates for congress must reside in the state they seek to represent but there is no minimum requirement for the length of residency.
"It's not a surprise Trey's father is going to do what he can independently and legally to help his son," Hollingsworth's campaign manager Rachel Jacobs said in response to a question about the contributions.
The Indiana Jobs Now super PAC is based in Virginia and is run by the consulting group Crossroads Media LLC.
Trey Hollingsworth is the founder of Hollingsworth Capital Partners and declared financial assets worth more than $50 million in his candidate financial disclosure statement. His yearly income is well in excess of $1 million, according to the statement.
His campaign has primarily been self-financed so far. Federal campaign finance records show Trey Hollingsworth loaned his campaign roughly $600,000. He has raised just $8,000 from individual donors. Zoeller, meanwhile, has raised about $232,000 in individual contributions, while Houchin has raised $240,000. Waltz has raised about $175,000 and loaned his campaign another $75,000, according the federal records.
Hollingsworth's father is the owner of Hollingsworth Cos., which constructs industrial parks and has substantial holdings across the South, according to the company's website.
Monroe County Council member Shelli Yoder, an instructor at Indiana University and one-time Miss Indiana, is running for the Democratic Party nomination.