Ron Paul may have won the California Republican Party's straw poll Saturday, but his votes came at a price: A Paul supporter wrote a check for $26,000 to register Paul supporters and allow them to vote, Flashreport.org publisher Jon Fleischman said this morning.
The Texas congressman won 374 votes, roughly 45 percent of the vote. Registration for each person cost about $100.
Paul's supporters filled the JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles for Paul's speech here early Saturday, then lined up to vote.
"You stand in line, and everybody waiting to vote is holding an anti-war sign," said Fleischman. a party executive committee member.
He said it is a "legitimate win by Ron Paul under the rules," if not a reflection of the preference of party activists.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose supporters also organized a straw poll push, finished second. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney finished third.
Among Republicans statewide, Romney is polling ahead of Perry, far ahead of Paul and the rest of the field.
Fleischman said he didn't know who cut the check for Paul. A party spokesman didn't, either. This evening, John Dennis, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of California, said the Paul campaign itself paid for the registrations. It is no different than in other straw polls, he said.
Nothing in party rules prohibits such a payment, and registration fees benefit the party.
"It turns out that it costs money to participate in a straw poll," party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro told delegates this morning. "We had a lot of new participants."
Editor's note: This post updated at 7:56 p.m. to reflect Dennis' comments.