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Behind Every Republican, a Billionaire

But it's the uncommitted billionaires who may be key to the 2016 Republican primary
by Karoli Kuns

Aug 1, 2015 | Politics



By July 1999, George W. Bush had won the “money primary,” amassing what The New York Times described as “an enormous $37 million war chest.” In July 2015, Jeb Bush’s campaign announced that it and the Right to Rise super-PAC had raised $114 million.

The “money primary” continues, but it is becoming a “billionaire primary,” in which each candidate must secure the backing of at least one billionaire. The winner of the “billionaire primary” will be the beneficiary of a $900-million Koch brothers coordinated pledge to elect a Republican to the White House in 2016.

Jeb Bush
He hasn’t disclosed donors to his Right to Rise super-PAC, but early reports indicate a wide swath. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been spotted, private-equity managers Lewis Eisenberg and Henry Kravis have sponsored fundraising dinners, as have Silicon Valley venture capitalists Bill Oberndorf and Bill Draper. Johnson & Johnson billionaire Woody Johnson is also officially backing Bush.

Ted Cruz
Robert Mercer, who often joins forces with David and Charles Koch, is the force behind Cruz. Other wealthy donors include Houston investor Toby Neugebauer, who has committed $10 million; Houston Texans owner Bob McNair; and Florida entrepreneur John W. Childs. The Cruz campaign has claimed it had over $37 million in commitments, though official disclosures have yet to be filed.

The “money primary” continues, but it is becoming a “billionaire primary.”

Marco Rubio
Billionaire auto dealer Norman Braman is Rubio’s long-time patron. He has financed Rubio’s campaigns, and sometimes covered his personal finances since Rubio’s political career began. Braman has committed at least $10 million to Rubio’s super-PAC for 2016. Rubio is aggressively courting Las Vegas hotel magnate Sheldon Adelson.

Rand Paul
By mid-July, Paul had no billionaire donating to RandPAC, though it is expected that Silicon Valley donors will line up behind him. These include PayPal co-founder Peter Theil; Palantir Technologies co-founder Joe Lonsdale; and hedge fund mogul Kenneth Garschina. Paul also enjoys close ties to conservative libertarian nonprofit organizations such as Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity, funded by Charles and David Koch, among others.

Scott Walker
Walker is a favorite of the Kochs. His super-PAC has promised access to the candidate in exchange for donations of $250,000 to $1 million. He is also a favorite of Wisconsin billionaire Diane Hendricks, who is focused on union-busting. Hardware store owner John Menard Jr. has also thrown his support behind Walker’s campaign, who also enjoys the support of Wisconsin Club for Growth. A recent investigation into Walker’s campaign-finance activities revealed Menard reportedly donated $1.5 million to the Club for Growth to back Walker’s 2014 gubernatorial bid.

Uncommitted billionaires could be the key to the 2016 Republican Party’s primary

David and Charles Koch consider the top five Republican candidates to be viable. According to public statements, they are waiting to see which message resonates with the most voters before putting their weight behind any one of them.

Sheldon Adelson is reported to be waiting in the wings, though he leans toward Marco Rubio as his first choice. Adelson will put the most weight on the candidate who backs Israel aggressively.

Paul Singer, the hedge-fund magnate, is a free agent. He is unlikely to support any candidate who opposes gay marriage, and may reserve his full support until after the primaries.

Joe Ricketts, founder of Ameritrade, is still playing the field. He heads up the Ending Spending PAC, which spent heavily in 2014 on conservative candidates. Ricketts has met with all of the super-PACs for the top contenders, as well as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Annette Simmons, heir to the Contran Corporation, has not signaled her support for a candidate. Her late husband Robert Simmons was a prolific donor to GOP candidates. As a primary underwriter of the Swiftboat campaign that undermined John Kerry’s 2004 bid for the presidency, Simmons spared no expense. It’s assumed that Simmons’ widow will continue the tradition, but she has not indicated where she will put her money.

Karoli Kuns is a researcher, writer and editor for Crooks and Liars, a political commentary site.

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1 Comment

  1. Hello, I read your article, Fascinating but I am afraid I have to disagree. The title of your Article should be:

    “Behind every Politician, a Billionaire”

    My logic and sources?

    Barack Obama (D)
    1 University of California $1,350,139
    2 Microsoft Corp $815,645
    3 Google Inc $804,249
    4 US Government $736,722
    5 Harvard University
    -2012 Campaign at Open Secrets.org

    In and interview when confronted about his financial backing with Sachs:

    “No,” Obama said. “First of all, I got a lot of money from a lot of people. And the vast majority of the money I got was from small donors all across the country. And moreover, anybody who gave me money during the course of my campaign knew that I was on record again in 2007, and 2008, pushing very strongly that we needed to reform how Wall Street did business. And so, nobody should be surprised in the position that I’m taking now because it is one that I was very clear about in the course of the campaign.” Politifact
    Infact 2/3 of Obama’s funding came from Large contributors:

    Small Indiv Contrib. $233,215,440
    Large Indiv. Contrib. $489,660,089
    Individual contributions $715,150,163
    -Open Secrets.Org

    Hillary Clinton:

    Citigroup Inc $782,327
    Goldman Sachs $711,490
    DLA Piper $628,030
    JPMorgan Chase & Co $620,919
    EMILY’s List $605,174

    According to the Daily beast:
    “More than 60 ultra-rich Americans have contributed to both Jeb Bush’s and Hillary Clinton’s federal campaigns, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data by Vocativ and The Daily Beast. Seventeen of those contributors have gone one step further and opened their wallets to fund both Bush’s and Clinton’s 2016 ambitions.”
    “John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods, is a long-time—and promiscuous—political player. This year alone, his company spent half a million dollars lobbying Congress on everything from immigration reform and fuel taxes to food safety regulations. He himself has given $25,000 each to the political action committees supporting Clinton’s and Bush’s 2016 candidacies, according to the data parsed by Vocativ.”

    “Shares of Tyson Foods have shot up 25% this year, boosting John Tyson’s personal net worth to an estimated $1.2 billion. Business has never been better for Tyson, which breeds, slaughters, ships and sells the animals that end up in grocery stores and fast-food chains across America. Apr 14, 2014″ Forbes


    Ok Clinton top five Contributors:

    Bill Gates net worth: 79.3 billion USD (Forbes)
    Frank Giustra: founder of Lions gate. Lions Gate net worth $1.584 billion (wikinvest 2010)
    Fred Eychaner 500 million (ok we got 1 millionaire)

    Chafee and his wife Stephanie Danforth Chafee are both from storied New England political families that have built up wealth over generations. The couple’s net worth was at least $60 million when Chafee’s term in the Senate ended in 2007, according to Congressional disclosures. That made Chafee one of the 10 wealthiest senators in Washington at the time. The Chafees may be worth considerably more now — but much of that probably comes from his wife’s family money. Stephanie Chafee donated about $1.8 million to her husband’s campaign for governor in 2010 — nearly 65% of all the money he raised, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

    Professional investors were the fourth-biggest source of funds for Chafee while he was a senator. He may still be able to pick up some Wall Street money, but he’s way behind leading candidates such as Clinton, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who have been working the fat-cat bankers for months (or longer).” Yahoo Finance

    Martin O’maley
    “O’Malley is now the third Democrat to throw his hat into the ring, after Clinton and Bernie Sanders. During two terms as governor, O’Malley raised a respectable $22 million in campaign funding,” hmm…. Now he’s falling behind

    Bernie Sanders:
    Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has raised about $15 million since it launched in late April, aides to the campaign told CNN on Thursday.
    “The Sanders’ campaign will not release its full Federal Election Commission report on Thursday” -CNN Politics

    Aides say the 400,000 donations came from about 250,000 individual donors.
    The average donation was $33.51 and 99% of donations were under $250.

    Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union $105,000
    Teamsters Union $93,700
    National Education Assn $84,350
    United Auto Workers $79,650
    United Food & Commercial Workers Union $72,500
    Communications Workers of America $68,000
    Laborers Union $64,000
    Carpenters & Joiners Union $62,000
    National Assn of Letter Carriers $61,000
    American Assn for Justice $60,500
    American Fedn of St/Cnty/Munic Employees $58,198
    Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $53,000
    United Transportation Union $48,500
    Sheet Metal Workers Union $47,000
    Operating Engineers Union $46,100
    Service Employees International Union $43,764
    UNITE HERE $42,875
    United Steelworkers $41,750
    American Postal Workers Union $37,700
    Plumbers/Pipefitters Union $36,000

    All unions according to open secrets.org

    So I took another look at another source:

    “Social media memes say that Clinton’s top 10 donors are mainly “banks, corporations and media,” while Bernie Sanders’ top 10 donors are labor unions. This contention fits quite closely with campaign data from the Center for Responsive Politics.” politifacts who dubbed it mostly true. Cool so that is one Organization of power (and I am a low class non unionized worker here medically retired from injuries going back to school) that is not considered a millionaire so we got one man for the people. I won’t even slander him with the “Worker’s Party” or Communist here. Though I have to admit some of his policy proposals do make me arc an eyebrow. even as a College student.

    And last of the Democratic top 5 for president:

    James Webb.
    Keeping America’s Promise $73,537
    University of Virginia $30,475
    Time Warner $28,950 $28,950 $0
    Bernstein, Litowitz et al $23,050
    Holland & Knight $21,834
    Altria Group $21,000
    Skadden, Arps et al $20,550
    Plumbers/Pipefitters Union $20,000
    Northrop Grumman $19,400
    Dominion Resources $18,450
    Norfolk Southern $18,350
    US Government $16,650 (wait what?)
    Goldman Sachs $15,500
    Leidos Inc $15,000
    Akin, Gump et al $14,300
    Capital One Financial $14,000
    Squire Patton Boggs $14,000
    National Amusements Inc $13,350
    McGuireWoods LLP $12,600
    Merrill Lynch $12,570
    -open secrets.org

    Um….. Do I need to research their net worth?

    So in conclusion the only one who appears to be backed by people from unions and the middle class is: Bernie Sanders.

    So maybe after all this I hold join. the US population is 318 million. If I received a dollar from every one of them I should be able to fund my election. Hmm. Now what do I believe in? which side curries that favor, or popularity? How many Uncle Money bags are advocates of that party? AHA! I’ll go Democratic!

    Thats how it seems to work.

    By the way? My Political party? Not Democrat, Definitely not republican. Independent? Nope! Im an American. I vote for the politicians that come close to my views. I don’t trust Politicians, I trust facts. and even a Politician has reputations. Let me tell you Niether one of these guys we both mention I trust. However I am liking Dr Ben Carson. I tend to trust doctors,especially one that has one of the most notable reputations as the best Neurosurgeon (wow big word) in the world from humble beginnings, and with this nation’s terminal Illness we need a surgeon in the Oval Office.

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