Despite claiming he has a net worth of $10 billion, Donald Trump has made clear to his associates that there’s no way he’s footing the bill for a general election campaign that will likely cost more than $1 billion. He has already spent at least $36 million of his own money on the campaign.
Given he’s not willing to write a $1 billion check, Trump needs wealthy Republican donors to rally around him. But having spent the best part of a year telling donors he doesn’t want their dirty money, Trump has a bit of work to do to get them on his side.
Here’s a list of the GOP donors who are with Trump; the ones on the fence, and those who say “Never Trump.”
With the exceptions of the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch; Sheldon Adelson is the most important donor in conservative politics.
Trump and his team have been wooing Adelson for months, and now they’ve finally got him.
One of the richest men in America with a net worth of $26 billion, according to Forbes, Adelson, a Las Vegas-based casino owner, likes to spend big on politics. In the 2012 presidential cycle, Adelson and his wife Miriam spent about $100 million.
Those who work with Adelson say that if he’s in a good mood, he’s capable of waking up on any given morning and deciding on the spot to write a seven figure check. He’s one of the few donors in America who can single-handedly alter the course of an election.
On Friday morning, Adelson endorsed Trump in as public and forceful way as possible. He wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post praising Trump and outlining his rationale for why Republicans should rally around their presumptive nominee.
But as much as Trump will enjoy the praise, the paragraph he’ll be most happy about is the one where Adelson urged “those who provide important financial backing” to join him in backing Trump.
Another Vegas casino owner, Phil Ruffin is a friend of Trump’s and demonstrated his friendship early on in the campaign in the best way a billionaire knows how.
Ruffin, who owns the Treasure Island casino and whose net worth is more than $2.5 billion, according to Forbes, wrote a $1 million check to a super-PAC that was set up last year to support Trump.
The super-PAC, Make America Great Again, was shut down after media began scrutinizing its ties to the Trump campaign. But expect Ruffin to jump on the Trump train when called.
Anyone who’s been to a Trump rally has heard the name Carl Icahn. Trump mentions Icahn’s name whenever he wants to show he’s got big business guys behind him.
Icahn, an activist investor worth some $17 billion, hasn’t given a penny yet to Trump’s campaign, according to the publicly available Federal Election Commission reports. But there is no doubting Icahn’s capacity to do so. All Trump would need to do is ask.
A billionaire media mogul from Minnesota, Hubbard is one of the most prolific givers in Republican politics.
Trump was not his first choice this campaign — and that’s putting it mildly. Not only did Hubbard max out to nearly every Republican presidential candidate’s campaign besides Trump, he also gave $10,000 to group Our Principles PAC, which had the sole purpose of destroying Trump’s candidacy.
But Hubbard is now not only on board but reportedly helping a pro-Trump super-PAC.In a recent interview with The Hill, Hubbard explained his rationale for coming around to Trump. It’s pretty simple: Hillary Clinton is worse.
“She’s a tool of the union bosses and left-wing fruitcakes, believers of global warming, and that’s more scary,” Hubbard said.
T. Boone Pickens
Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, who previously supported Ben Carson, is now on Team Trump. And he’s hosting a fundraiser for a super-PAC supporting his fellow billionaire, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Pickens, who chairs the private energy investment firm BP Capital, advised Carson on energy policy but it’s unclear whether he will have any role with Trump’s policy team.
Pickens has been promoting his Pickens Plan, which argues for “an increase in production of oil and natural gas from North American shale deposits.”
Thomas Barrack Jr.
Sources tell The Hill that Barrack is one of the driving forces behind the infant Trump money operation.
A multimillionaire investor from California, Barrack is a longtime friend of Trump’s and has been telling his friends for months that they should get on board Team Trump. Forbes describes Barrack as a “contrarian real estate investor” whose business made a killing buying “bad real estate loans from busted S&Ls.”
Barrack is scheduled to kick off the Trump campaign’s West Coast fundraising blitz with a fundraiser at his home on May 25, the Washington Post reported.
‘Papa’ Doug Manchester
When The Hill first began reporting on Trump’s donors last year, one of the first names mentionedwas Papa Doug Manchester, a hotel developer from California.
Manchester was early to support Trump and wrote a $50,000 check to the Make America Great Again super-PAC that shut down after media scrutiny about its ties to the Trump campaign. But Manchester remains a major Trump booster and sources familiar with Trump’s fundraising efforts say he’s set to play an important role on the West Coast.
Steve Mnuchin and Anthony Scaramucci
Both Wall Street financiers, Mnuchin and Scaramucci are leading Trump’s campaign fundraising. Scaramucci is a well-known Republican donor who previously in this cycle was on the national fundraising teams for Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.
Mnuchin is less well known in GOP fundraising circles, having given more money to Democrats than Republicans over the years, but he is well-connected on Wall Street and on Thursday evening was dining with multimillionaire hedge fund managers at a Las Vegas conference.
There are too many names to list in this category. In fact, most of the Republican donor universe could fit in the “unclear” category.
It would include the American Crossroads group founded by Karl Rove; hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, who gave Ted Cruz ‘s super-PAC more than $11 million; Rubio donor Norman Braman, a billionaire Florida auto dealer, and well-connected West Coast donors like Bradford Freeman, who gave the Jeb Bush super-PAC more than $1 million.
Undecided donors have a lot to consider before they jump on the Trump train. First, their reputations. They have to weigh what supporting such a divisive man as Trump will mean for their relationships in business and political circles, not to mention what their family might think.
Well-connected California Republican donor Rockwell Schnabel admits he’s still concerned about Trump and though he’s inclined to support the GOP presumptive nominee he says he will first have to answer to his wife and children before going all in for Trump.
The first rule with this list should be, “Never say never.”
Hubbard, after all, gave $10,000 to a Never Trump super-PAC only to then turn around and in a matter of weeks, become a Trump backer. But sources close to some of the most prominent Never Trump donors say it’s safe to say they will never, ever, under any conditions get behind the GOP’s presumptive nominee.
Charles and David Koch
The billionaire industrialist brothers, who control the most powerful donor network in conservative politics, have a 2016 cycle budget of $889 million. But don’t expect them to spend a penny on Trump.
The Koch brothers loathe what Trump stands for. They cannot stand his tone or his policies, such as protecting large entitlement programs and banning Muslims from entering the U.S. Expect the Kochs to protect down-ballot Republicans and stay away from the presidential race.
The Ricketts family
The Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs baseball team, has already spent $5.5 million opposing Trump through the super-PAC Our Principles PAC.
The GOP mega-donor family, which is led by billionaire broker Joe Ricketts and his wife Marlene, has not wavered in its opposition to Trump despite misinformed speculation that they might be softening their stance after one member of the family – Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts – endorsed the presumptive GOP nominee last week.
But the family is running out of options to oppose Trump, given the billionaire’s growing strength within the party. The Ricketts group’s goal may morph into helping down-ballot Republicans up for re-election.
New York hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer was a major Marco Rubio booster and a donor who was early to take the threat of Trump seriously.
Singer was sounding out operatives for an anti-Trump attack as far back as last year, sources familiar with the effort say. And he has already spent at least $1.5 million opposing Trump through Our Principles PAC.
Associates of Singer say he is still theoretically open to the idea of funding a third party bid to take on Trump and Hillary Clinton but is unlikely to pursue the idea given there is no realistic candidate at this late stage.