The Billionaires Powering the 2024 Republican Presidential Candidates

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Behind most 2024 White House contenders are a handful of billionaires flush with cash.

But unlike loving partners, these plutocrats aren’t necessarily married to their candidate and sometimes spread their support to multiple presidential aspirants while waiting to see who can gain the most traction.

“Right now, what I’m finding is that most of the major donors are giving a little bit to people … but not going all in on anybody yet,” former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Aug. 1.

There are exceptions. For instance, Las Vegas real estate and aerospace mogul Robert Bigelow (estimated net worth: $1 billion) has shelled out tens of millions of dollars to back Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — though he recently indicated he was planning to pause donations for now.

Others, such as venture capitalist Peter Thiel, are keeping their financial powder dry and staying on the sidelines — at least for now.

Robert Bigelow
Robert Bigelow has given heavily to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.AP

Federal law caps how much cash megadonors can steer to campaigns directly, so many members of the 1% opt to give large sums of money to Super PACs backing contenders they favor or at least find interesting.

Recent mid-year filings with the Federal Election Commission have shed light on which deep-pocketed donors are bankrolling which Republican hopefuls.

The estimated net worth of each individual donor is in parentheses and according to Forbes’ real-time list unless otherwise indicated.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump
Donald Trump is currently the commanding GOP frontrunner.REUTERS

A billionaire in his own right, former President Donald Trump remains a fundraising powerhouse.

Past big-named backers, such as real estate heir Ronald Lauder ($4.4 billion) and private equity behemoth Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman ($32 billion) appear to be distancing themselves from the GOP frontrunner.

But that doesn’t appear to be hindering Trump’s fundraising performance. Last quarter, his joint fundraising committee, comprised of his 2024 campaign and the Save America PAC touted a roughly $35 million haul.

Multiple billionaires donated to the Trump-aligned Make America Great Again Inc. Super PAC during the first half of the year:

Phil Ruffin ($3.4 billion)— The 88-year-old casino and hotel mogul has given multiple $1 million donations to the MAGA PAC. Ruffin owns half of the Trump International Las Vegas and Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Sin City.

Phil Ruffin
Ruffin has given multiple $1 million donations to the MAGA PAC.Corbis via Getty Images

Ruffin has been active in recent election cycles, having sent money to back Trump during the 2016 election. He also donated to both Barack Obama and John McCain in 2008.

Charles Kushner (Family: $1.8 billion) — The real estate mogul, who received a late-term pardon from Trump in December 2020, was one of the largest donors to the MAGA PAC, contributing $1 million in June. He previously contributed to Obama in 2008.

Politics is a family affair for Kushner. His son Jared is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, though the couple have pointedly stepped back from the 77-year-old’s 2024 campaign.

Robert “Woody” Johnson ($3.7 billion) — Trump’s former ambassador to the United Kingdom and the co-owner of the New York Jets donated $1 million to the MAGA PAC in April.

Johnson has donated to benefit Trump in the past and has a history of donating to Republicans, including past presidential candidates John McCain and Tim Pawlenty.

Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis, widely pegged in second place, is a favorite among GOP donors.AFP via Getty Images

The Sunshine State governor is practically in a fundraising league of his own. His campaign alone raked in roughly $20 million in the second quarter and the preeminent DeSantis-aligned Super PAC, Never Back Down finished out June with a whopping $96.8 million cash on hand, per FEC filings.

Some billionaire donors such as Interactive Brokers founder Thomas Peterffy have soured on DeSantis publicly over his anti-abortion and socially conservative stances.

But DeSantis hasn’t flinched on his principles and continues to be a fundraising juggernaut.

Douglas Leone ($6.6 billion)— The California venture capitalist contributed $2 million to Never Back Down in April. He’s given extensively to Republicans, including George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Jeb Bush, and Trump.

Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein ($3.8 billion)— The billionaire couple who struck gold in the packaging materials industry each gave the well-to-do Super PAC $1 million.

Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein
Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, a powerhouse GOP mega donor couple, has given at least $1 million to a PAC backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.Uline, /YouTube

The Uihleins are regular GOP mega donors, having sent millions to various Republicans over the years, including McCain, Romney and Ron Paul.

Edward Debartolo ($3.1 billion)— Best known as the longtime owner of the San Francisco 49ers, Debartolo gave Never Back Down $250,000 in late June, just before the mid-year deadline.

Debartolo has a relatively sparse donation track record compared to many of his peers. He donated to Trump in the 2020 cycle and has contributed to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) including in 2006 and 2012.

Vivek Ramaswamy

Vivek Ramaswamy
Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign has touted its record of small-dollar donations. He has also lent money from his personal fortune to his campaign.ZUMAPRESS.com

Coming in hot off a recent surge in the polls, the 37-year-old multimillionaire entrepreneur has sought to turbocharge his political fundraising with a crowdsourcing scheme.

Participants in “Vivek’s Kitchen Cabinet” can siphon a portion of what they raise for his campaign. A political newcomer, Ramaswamy has fewer billionaires at his disposal relative to other campaigns.

The Ramaswamy-aligned American Exceptionalism PAC has raised roughly half a million dollars as of June 30.

Glenn Dubin ($2.8 billion)— The hedge fund billionaire dished out $100,000 to the Super PAC and has donated to Ramaswamy’s campaign directly as well.

Dubin’s donation history includes contributions to many Democrats such as Reps. Dan Goldman (D-NY) and Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.).

August Busch III — The 86-year-old former Anheuser-Busch chairman comes from a family with a fortune Forbes estimated at $17.6 billion in 2020. He gave $25,000 to the Ramaswamy PAC.

Busch III is documented as donating extensively to GOP presidential candidates in past cycles, including Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, and Ted Cruz. He also donated to his Democratic sister Trudy Busch Valentine’s unsuccessful 2022 Senate campaign from Missouri.

Mike Pence

Mike Pence
Mike Pence has indicated that he hasn’t yet qualified for the GOP debate yet.AP

Perhaps the most prominent 2024 contender who has not yet met the 40,000 unique donor threshold to make the Aug. 23 debate, the former vice president appears to be getting limited support from America’s elite.

Richard Colburn — Colburn, the scion of the family behind Consolidated Electrical Distributors (fortune pegged at $1.2 billion in 2015 by Forbes), contributed $100,000 to Pence’s Committed to America PAC in May.

Warren Stephens ($3.2 billion)— The Arkansas-based investment banking tycoon gave Committed to America $100,000 in June, records show.

Stephens is a veteran donor to Republicans, including the presidential campaigns of Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, Scott Walker, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio during the 2016 cycle alone.

Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley has has aggressively barnstormed early states since February.CAROLINE BREHMAN/EPA-EFE/Shutter

The first heavyweight contender to officially challenge Trump, the former ambassador to the United Nations has been courting numerous big-name donors.

Her campaign and allied Super PACs have been stockpiling cash waiting for the right time to strike.

Last week, the Haley-aligned Stand For America Fund announced a roughly $13 million ad blitz in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Jan Koum ($14.3 billion) — Ukrainian-American businessman and co-founder of WhatsApp has given multiple donations — including two $5,000,000 contributions — to the SFA Fund in February and June, records indicate.

Tim Draper — The venture capitalist and founder of Draper Fisher Jurvetson was estimated to have a $1.2 billion net worth by the outlet in 2022.

He donated $1,255,000 to SFA Fund in June. Draper’s history crosses party lines, including contributions to President Biden.

Warren Stephens — An example of a billionaire who funnels cash to back multiple candidates, the investment banking mogul sent $25,000 to the SFA Fund in June.

Laurel Asness — Wife of the hedge fund manager and AQR Capital Management co-founder Cliff Asness (estimated net worth: $1.6 billion), Laurel contributed $1 million to the SFA Fund in February.

She has donated extensively to Republicans, including Haley’s fellow South Carolinian and 2024 hopeful Sen. Tim Scott.

Tim Scott

Tim Scott
Tim Scott has one of the largest war chests of any candidate and is beginning to tap into it at a fervent clip.REUTERS

The South Carolina senator jumped into the 2024 scrum with over $20 million in the bank thanks to a transfer from his Senate re-election campaign committee.

His campaign has begun blanketing the airwaves with ads to boost name recognition.

But the senator also enjoys strong backing from a cohort of billionaires, many of whom gave to allied PACs such as Opportunity Matters Fund Action and Trust in the Mission.

Larry Ellison ($143.9 billion) — The co-founder and chief technology officer of software giant Oracle has poured $25 million into Opportunity Matters Fund since 2020,The Wrap reported. 

Scott called Ellison a “great mentor” during a speech in North Charleston, South Carolina in May. 

Nelson Peltz ($1.5 billion)— The investor and non-executive chairman of the Wendy’s Company sent four increments of $20,000 donations to Opportunity Matters Fund Action totaling $80,000.

Peltz has largely given to Republicans, though he is listed as having given to a pro-Chuck Schumer group multiple times including in 2015.

Jeffrey Yass ($28.9 billion) — The Pennsylvania business magnate and money manager donated $200,000 to the Opportunity Matters Action Fund in March, May, and June. His past donations include the presidential campaigns of Bob Kerrey in 1992, Ralph Nader in 2004, and Rudy Giuliani in 2008.

Stanley Druckenmiller ($6.4 billion) — The former hedge fund manager steered $150,000 toward the Opportunity Matters Action Fund PAC in April. He previously gave to PACs for Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich during the 2016 cycle.

Ben Navarro — Reported to have a $3 billion net worth by ESPN and others, Navarro founded Sherman Financial Group, which owns Credit One Bank. He gave the TIM PAC $5 million in late June, per financial disclosures.

Navarro has previously donated to Scott’s Senate campaign and generally gives to Republicans, including John McCain and George W. Bush.

Chris Christie
Chris Christie has positioned himself as the Trump attack dog in the 2024 fray.AP

Chris Christie

Having jumped into the contest in early June — later in the game than many of his peers — the former New Jersey governor quickly accumulated the 40,000 unique donors needed to make it to the debate stage.

Christie has sought to make himself the go-to candidate for voters and donors disillusioned with Trump. The allied Tell It Like It Is PAC has won donations from some contributors who have also given significant amounts to other candidates.

Jeffrey Yass — The Pennsylvania business mogul who also donated to Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) gave $250,000 to Tell It Like It Is in late June.

Bruce Kovner ($6.6 billion) — The hedge fund billionaire contributed $250,000 to the Christie-aligned PAC in late June.

Kovner has stepped up GOP contributions in recent years and has sent money to more moderate members of the party such as Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and former Rep.

Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). He also donated to Christie’s campaign and PAC in the 2016 cycle. Other GOP candidates Kovner has supported include Phil Gramm in 1996, Giuliani, McCain, and Romney

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David Tepper ($18.5 billion) — The hedge fund manager and Carolina Panthers owner (who beat out Navarro for the NFL team) gave the PAC $250,000 in June. Tepper also supported Christie in 2016, Romney in 2012, and Giuliani in 2008. He also contributed to a pro-Schumer PAC in the 2016 cycle.

Cliff Asness — While his wife donated to the Haley PAC, the AQR Capital Management co-founder wired $250,000 to Tell It Like It Is in June.

Jeff Yates

He also has donated to Haley’s campaign and generally backs Republicans from various ideological corners of the party.

As Republicans slug it out in the heated primary contest and scramble to court donors, President Biden and his Democratic allies are amassing a mountain of cash.

Last month, financial disclosures revealed that the Democratic National Committee and its joint fundraising committees amassed $72 million in the second quarter of 2023.

Due to the lack of a serious primary challenge, Biden’s campaign has been saving up with an eye on the general election.

source: nypost.com/meet-the-billionaires-powering-the-2024-gop-candidates

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