Meet The Chicken Mogul, Baseball Owner and Trump Brother Funding The 2016 Campaigns

Learn which mega-donors are forking over big bucks to super PACs.

ByRYAN STRUYK, ALANA ABRAMSON and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI
July 31, 2015, 6:30 PM
PHOTO: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks to a group at a Politics and Pie at the Snow Shoe Club Thursday, April 16, 2015, in Concord, N.H.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks to a group at a Politics and Pie at the Snow Shoe Club Thursday, April 16, 2015, in Concord, N.H.
AP Photo/Jim Cole

— -- It’s all about the money in the race for 2016.

Super PACs — outside groups that can raise unlimited money to spend for presidential candidates — need to release their donors and total money by Friday night at midnight. Not all the reports are in, but we are already starting to learn which mega-donors are forking over big bucks, and how candidates are spending the money.

But there’s a catch: unlike the campaigns themselves, Super PACs can raise unlimited dollars, but they aren’t allowed to “officially” coordinate their strategies with the campaigns. Still, these dollars will undoubtedly benefit the candidates during the elections, particularly in terms of how many ads they can afford or how outside staff they can support.

We went digging into the details:

1. A Historic Haul

The dollars are flowing in for Jeb Bush.

The former Florida governor raked in an unprecedented $103 million through his Super PAC, called Right to Rise. This amount surpasses his competitors by far; Hillary Clinton’s Super PAC “Priorities USA Action,” raised approximately $15.6 million.

Bush also has two dozen donors who have given at least $1 million through the first half of 2015. Clinton had 7 donors who gave that amount to “Priorities USA Action.”

And how much has the group spent? Less than 1 percent, which means they have the largest stockpile in the field heading into the crowded GOP primary.

2. Big Donors, Big Dollars

It may just take one big donor for some candidates — like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. One of Cruz’s major Super PACs called Keep the Promise II has only one donor: Toby Neugebauer, a private equity firm leader, gave a whopping $10 million to the organization. It’s the largest single donation of the 2016 cycle so far.

But Cruz isn’t alone. More than 80 percent of Mike Huckabee’s $3.6 million haul came from Arkansas poultry company owner Ronald Cameron. And Wisconsin businesswoman Diane Hendricks gave $5 million to her governor, Scott Walker.

And a combined $10 million went to Rick Perry’s Super PAC from Texas businessman Kelcy Warren and Arkansas businessman Darwin Deason.

3. Going For The Gold

PHOTO: Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder stands on the sidelines prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., Oct. 12, 2014.
Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder stands on the sidelines prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., Oct. 12, 2014.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Some sports owners aren’t leaving it all out on the field. Instead, they’re choosing to play in the political arena.

Scott Walker’s Super PAC “Unintimidated” raked in the biggest donation from a sports-associated contributor. The Ricketts family — the owners of the Chicago Cubs baseball team — tossed $5 million dollars to the Super PAC backing the Wisconsin governor. Joe gave $100,000, his wife Marlene gave $4.9 million in contributions and their son Todd gave almost $2,500. According to Forbes, the family is worth nearly $4.5 billion.

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder is just one of the many donors who gave to Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise, fishing out $100,000 in contributions for the former Florida governor. Snyder donated to Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012 and John McCain’s campaign in 2008. Other sports team owners to give to Bush’s Super PAC — Texas Rangers owner Ray Davis ($100,000), Houston Texans owner Robert “Bob” McNair ($500,000), and New York Jets owner Robert “Woody” Johnson ($501,604.27).

The long-time owner and founder of the Houston Texans, Bob McNair, besides giving to Jeb Bush’s Super PAC, decided to assist Lindsey Graham’s Super PAC “Security is Strength” with $500,000.

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon pitched in $100,000 to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s Super PAC "America Leads".

4. Help A Brother Out

PHOTO: Former President George H. W. Bush, center, is joined by his sons, former President George W. Bush, left, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine, June 12, 2009.
Former President George H. W. Bush, center, is joined by his sons, former President George W. Bush, left, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, as he speaks to reporters after his parachute jump with the Army Golden Knights parachute team to celebrate his 85th birthday, June 12, 2009, in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo

Family’s got your back when it comes to Super PACs.

Jeb Bush’s father, George H.W. and brother, George W., both made contributions to his Super PAC, Right to Rise. Bush 41 dropped $125,000 and Bush 43 gave $95,000.

Christie‘s Super PAC America Leads got one donor who’s known to defend his brother no matter what. Todd Christie showed some brotherly love by giving $100,000 to America Leads.

5. The Other Trumps

Marco Rubio’s Super PAC Conservative Solutions received quite the hefty donation from someone with the last name “Trump.” No, not his opponent. Records show Jules Trump, the chairman of the Trump Group, gave $25,000 to the Super PAC. The Trump group, according to its website, is a family-owned investment group established more than 40 years ago. And while Mr. Trump may share the same name and — similar business as the GOP candidate — the similarities end there. When the Real Deal contacted Mr. Trump to profile him, he responded “We’re very boring. We’re very different from Mr. Trump. He’s much more interesting. Go write about him.”

That same article also reveals that Donald Trump sued Jules and his brother Eddy to stop them from using their last name. He ultimately prevailed — the brothers had to relinquish their trademark but could still use the name.

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