Donald Trump announced his reelection bid as soon as he took office four years ago and raised more than $1 billion in the 2020 cycle, according to OpenSecrets. This amount includes donations to his official campaign committee and outside groups such as single-candidate super PACs and hybrid PACs or Carey committees.
Where Did the Big Money Go?
Very large donations in U.S. presidential elections are directed to super PACs (political action committees) or hybrid PACs because of the $5,600 limit on how much an individual can give to a candidate’s official campaign committee per election cycle. America First Action, a single-candidate, pro-Trump super PAC founded in April 2017 to support his agenda and deliver him a victory, was the primary recipient of funds from his wealthy backers.
Millions of dollars have come into the super PAC from the affiliated America First Policies nonprofit, but because it doesn’t disclose its donors, it’s known as a “dark money” group, and we can’t be certain who contributed to it. Trump supporters may have also given to joint fundraising committees set up for the presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee—for example, Trump Victory or the Trump Make America Great Again Committee.
The biggest industries represented among Trump donors overall this cycle were Health Services, Casinos/Gambling and Finance. Only $8,021 came out of the former president’s pockets this time around, versus $66 million in 2016.
The following are the top donors to the Trump 2020 campaign (2020 election cycle), according to processed Federal Election Commission data.*** They all gave to the America First Action super PAC.
1.Timothy Mellon, Pan Am Systems — $10 million
An heir to the Mellon banking fortune and the grandson of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, his is among the biggest donations this election cycle. He owns the largest regional railroad in North America, Pan Am Railways, which went up for sale in July. He’s been notably reclusive and absent from politics. Republican operatives reportedly had to look his name up on Google when he came forward to help.
2.Kelcy Warren, Energy Transfers — $10 million
Warren is the co-founder, chair and CEO of Energy Transfers. The Texas-based company owns and operates the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, which Democratic President Joe Biden may shut down or slow the review process of.
3.Geoffrey Palmer, G.H. Palmer Associates — $6 million
Palmer is a real estate magnate whose buildings in Los Angeles are known for their characteristic “fauxtalian” style. He was chosen to be part of Trump’s Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups (Construction/Labor/Workforce) in April 2020.
4.Linda McMahon, America First Action — $4.5 million
McMahon is famous for cofounding the WWE franchise with her husband, Vince. She ran the Small Business Administration from 2017 to 2019 and is currently the chair of the America First Action super PAC, to which she gave millions herself.
5.Patricia Duggan, Philanthropist/Entrepreneur — $3 million
Duggan is a top Scientology donor. An organization in her name has also separately donated $3 million to the America First Action super PAC this cycle.
6.Stephen Schwarzman, The Blackstone Group — $3 million
The billionaire investor and close friend of the president is the chair, CEO and cofounder of publicly traded investment firm The Blackstone Group. He was chosen to be part of Trump’s Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups (Financial Services) in April 2020.
7.Elizabeth “Liz” Uihlein, Uline — $2 million
She started the shipping giant Uline with her husband, Richard, in their basement in 1980. Liz was part of Trump’s economic advisory team in 2016 and was present on his call with business leaders about the nation’s COVID-19 response in March. Richard Uihlein donated $750,000.
8.Diane Hendricks, ABC Supply — $2 million
She is at the top of Forbes’ America’s Richest Self-Made Women ranking with a net worth of $7 billion. She cofounded ABC Supply, the largest wholesale distributor of roofing products in the country, with her late husband in 1982.
9.Warren Stephens, Stephens Inc. — $1.5 million
He is the chair, president, and CEO of the privately held financial services firm, Stephens Inc., which was started in 1933 by his uncle. He was chosen to be part of Trump’s Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups (Financial Services) in April 2020.
10.Cherna Moskowitz, Hawaiian Gardens Casino — $1.3 million
Cherna Moskowitz is the president of Hawaiian Gardens Casino in California and the Irving Moskowitz Fundation. She is the widow of Dr. Irving Moskowitz, a prominent physician and philanthropist, who died in 2016.
Several individuals of the DeVos family have together given $1 million, including Richard DeVos Jr., president of Amway and husband of former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Daniel DeVos, Suzanne DeVos, Doug DeVos, and Maria DeVos. Walter “Buck” Buckley, the cofounder and CEO of Actua Corp., a publicly traded venture capital firm that underwent liquidation in 2018, donated $1.1 million.
Individuals donating $1 million each include Ronald Cameron (chair of Arkansas-based poultry company Mountaire Farms), Robert Wood Johnson IV (U.S. ambassador to Britain and pharmaceutical heir), Jeffrey Sprecher (founder, chair, and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, and chair of the New York Stock Exchange), Rex Sinquefield (index funds pioneer), and Dana White (president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC).
***Note: We will continue to update this ranking as more FEC data is processed.***