The List: Top 10 Donors to GOP Governors Association with Christie at Helm

Colleen O'Dea | March 9, 2015 | Politics, The List
NJ’s top exec spent about a third of year helping RGA raise a healthy chunk of cash -- and garnering a huge amount of attention for himself

list button
Gov. Chris Christie’s tenure as chairman of the Republican Governors Association last year was considered a success, with the GOP taking control of the governorship of two additional states. It also brought Christie a huge amount of media exposure nationally, and in key early presidential-voting states, as he travelled the country for about a third of the year, campaigning for Republicans and raising money.

The RGA reported taking in $102 million under Christie’s leadership. There were 17 single contributions of $1 million or more. At least some of those donors are likely to show up in campaign and political committee filings by Christie and the Leadership Matters ffor America PAC he recently set up if he announces a run for the presidency, as is expected. These are the top 10 donors to the RGA while Christie was at the helm:

1. Sheldon Adelson: $4.5 million

The casino magnate who is CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. made three contributions: in December 2013 and May and October 2014. Adelson and Christie have something of a history. The billionaire reportedly lent Christie his private jet when the governor and his family flew to Israel in 2012 on a trade mission. Last year, Christie wound up making a private apology to Adelson after using the term “occupied territories” for Palestine during a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, according to reports.

2. Duke Energy: $2.8 million

The North Carolina-based utility made three contributions. Duke’s website states that Duke Energy “strongly supports individual participation in the political process … including involvement with political parties, candidates or issues.” The site also indicates that Duke believes its political involvements “demonstrate that we care about the communities in which we live and work.” Although Duke has given to both parties, it has provided more to Republicans in recent years.

3. Paul Singer: $2.6 million

Singer founded the hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. He is considered a major Republican backer and was a strong supporter of Mitt Romney in 2012. Not only does he give his own money to Republican candidates and causes, but also he is a bundler who brings in money from others. Singer alone made four contributions.

4-5. David Koch: $2.5 million

The younger of the Koch brothers, David is executive vice president of Koch Industries. The Kochs are major Republican sponsors and contribute to candidates and PACs at all levels of government. A libertarian, Koch and his brother founded the conservative Citizens for a Sound Economy.

4-5. ETC Capital LLC: $2.5 million

An investment firm founded by Manoj Bhargava, ETC made one large contribution to the RGA. ETC, based in Michigan, has given money to Republicans in state races, as well.

6. Wynn Resorts, Ltd.: $2 million

This company, chaired by Stephen Wynn, former chair of Mirage Resorts, is the second casino-related donor on the list. Wynn Resorts owns four casino properties. Wynn has said he is a Democrat who had backed President Barack Obama, but more recently soured on the president and is backing candidates of both parties.

7. Florida Power and Light Co.: $1.6 million

This Florida utility has given money to both Democrats and Republicans. The company, which serves 4.7 million customers, is one of the largest rate-regulated utilities in the nation. FPL is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, whose website states that its “participation in the public policy process is an important and essential means of enhancing shareholder value and is fundamental to free and democratic societies.”

8. Kenneth Griffin: $1.5 million

Griffin is founder and CEO of Citadel, one of the largest hedge funds in the country. He told the Chicago Tribune that he is a Reagan Republican and he has given millions to other Republican or conservative groups, including Mitt Romney, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity.

9. Mountaire Corp.: $1.28 million

$1.28 million. Founded in Arkansas, Mountaire is a poultry company now headquartered in Delaware. It made three separate contributions to the RGA. Chairman Ron Cameron also has contributed to GOP candidates and The Club for Growth.

10. Michael Bloomberg: $1.25 million

The former New York City mayor is among the wealthiest Americans. Bloomberg, who is chairman of the media company that bears his name, was first elected as a Republican, but left the party and became an independent. He also supports more liberal causes, including the group Everytown for Gun Control that is pushing for stronger gun-control laws.