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Midterms attracting new deep-pocketed donors

Photo by Vitaly on Unsplash

The president of a medical marijuana wholesaler, an investor whose son lobbied the White House on behalf of Venezuela and Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge’s wife made the list.

So did the CEO of an L.A.-based video game company, a wealthy student in Oregon and a Texas retiree who made over 1,400 distinct donations in 2017.

Twenty-seven new donors broke onto the scene last year by giving at least $100,000 to political causes after contributing no more than $20,000 from 1989 to 2016. It’s an eclectic group to say the least.

The only obvious through line between these top donors is that the vast majority — 23 of the 27 — gave to Republican causes.

Top 27 new donors (2018 cycle)

Donor Occupation / Employer 2017 1989 – 2016 Diff. Top Recipient(s)
Greg Lindberg Eli Research $622,500 $7,900 $614,600 North Carolina Republican Party
Michael Porter Retired $500,000 $0 $500,000 #ProjectRedTX
Austin Marxe AWM Investment $350,050 $11,275 $338,775 Senate Majority PAC
Lianbo Wang Thompson Education Center $339,500 $6,050 $333,450 Trump Victory
R.W. Habboush Habboush Group $334,000 $0 $334,000 RNC
Lily Kin Lawrence Consulting $301,300 $12,500 $288,800 Trump Victory
Adam Pritzker Assembled Brands $300,000 $2,000 $298,000 Future Now Fund
Tom Gates Espejo Energy $294,000 $9,500 $284,500 Team Ryan, MacArthur Victory
Daniel & Michelle Ainge Boston Celtics $255,400 $18,000 $237,400 Conservative Utah
Yu Kevin Guan N.A. Trucking Associations $235,625 $0 $235,625 Trump Victory
Adam Kidan & Tracy Schneider-Kidan Chartwell Staffing Solutions $146,200 $7,700 $138,500 NRC
David & Debra Magerman Six Points Restaurant $122,750 $2,000 $120,750 Congressional Republicans
James & Julie Brookshire S&B Engineers & Constructors $121,200 $16,000 $105,200 Team Ryan
Lorna Auerbach Auerbach Realty Holdings $117,910 $8,076 $109,834 NRCC, McCarthy Victory Fund
Patricia Walker Retired $116,758 $0 $116,758 DNC, End Citizens United
Bo Li Thompson Education Center $115,435 $170 $115,265 RNC
Charles & Kimberly Marshall Beacon Marshall Companies $110,800 $15,381 $95,419 Drain the Swamp Ohio
Justin Alexander Student $109,700 $0 $109,700 Trump MAGA
Tina Carolan Retired $100,201 $3,560 $96,641 MacArthur Victory Fund
Michael Robinson Ridgeview Asset Management $100,000 $0 $100,000 Citizens for a Strong America, United for Progress
Pavan Agarwal Sun West Mortgage $100,000 $0 $100,000 California Victory 2018
John Foley Wayzata Investment Partners $100,000 $0 $100,000 American Jobs & Growth PAC
Larry Davis LNS CAPITAL $100,000 $0 $100,000 Trump Victory
Marc Merill Riot Games $100,000 $0 $100,000 Centrist Project Election Fund
William Brothers Arizona Facilities Supply $100,000 $250 $99,750 Trump Victory
Ben Kante SeneGence International $100,000 $1,500 $98,500 California Victory 2018
John Garcia World Wide Medical Services $100,000 $10,000 $90,000 American Victory Fund 2010

Chart includes donations made from Jan. 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2017 

At top of the list: Greg Lindberg, a North Carolina “bootstrap entrepreneur” who cut a $500,000 check to the North Carolina Republican Party. Lindberg gave just over $10,000 to a Democrat in the statehouse — the rest went to Republicans — but his lawyer insists he is “very nonpartisan.”

R.W. Habboush, the international investor, dropped six-figures on both the Republican National Committee and Trump’s inauguration.

Habboush’s son, Wadie, reportedly visited the White House twice last year to discuss the U.S. lifting sanctions on Venezuela. The meetings didn’t stop the U.S. Treasury Department from announcing it would impose new sanctions on Venezuela.

William Brothers, the president of an Arizona-based medical marijuana wholesaler, gave $100,000 to Trump Victory.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is no friend of cannabis: Under his tenure, the Department of Justice has cracked down on marijuana by rescinding lenient Obama-era prosecution guidelines for states with some form of legalization.

Ben Kante is an executive of SeneGence, a popular multi-level marketing makeup company that claims one of its products “helps reduce Dark Circles by 122%.”

In March, Trump appointed Scott Gottlieb commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees cosmetic manufacturing and labeling. Its oversight includes whether cosmetics are “improperly labeled or deceptively packaged products,” as Romper noted. Gottlieb has accused the FDA in the past of over-regulating products.

Kante hadn’t made federal contributions until 2017, when he gave $250,000 to the Trump inauguration and $100,000 to California Victory Fund.

Lianbo Wang and Bo Li of Thompson Education Center, a proposed private higher education campus in New York, gave over $450,000 combined to Trump Victory and the RNC, which Trump Victory is affiliated with.

Thompson Education Center is the latest real estate venture of Long Island businesswoman Sherry Li, who previously proposed a Chinese Disneyland in the Catskill Mountains that aimed to attract wealthy Chinese investors through a federal program that reserves visas for charitable foreign investors. Sherry Li herself made major contributions to both Trump Victory and the RNC in 2017.

Michelle Ainge, whose husband is the general manager of the Boston Celtics, gifted $250,000 to Conservative Utah, a super political action committee (PAC) that supported her son’s unsuccessful primary bid for a U.S. House seat.

The top new liberal spender was Wall Street investment banker Austin Marxe, who gave to the Senate Majority PAC. Marxe donated just over $11,000 to political causes in the last 14 election cycles but gave $30 million to his alma mater in 2016.

Patricia Walker, the Texas retiree, gave over $100,000 in small donations — many of those $50 or less — through ActBlue, a liberal PAC that bundles and transmits earmarked contributions from individuals raised on their website to specific candidates.

Many Democratic candidates have relied increasingly on grassroots fundraising and small contributions. ActBlue has raised nearly $4 million dollars in the 2018 election cycle.

Marc Merill is the CEO of Riot Games, the developer of “League of Legends.” Merril gave $100,000 to Centrist Project Election Fund, a nonpartisan PAC which, according to its website, is dedicated to solving problems by “making the political process work better.”

Then there’s the Oregon student with no donor history who gave over $100,000 to Trump Make America Great Again and the RNC.

Trump Victory was the most popular cause for five donors, who combined to contribute almost $1.1 million in 2017.

Researcher Alex Baumgart contributed to this story.

Read From Source… [OpenSecrets Blog]

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