Primary Source

Published — July 31, 2013 Updated — May 28, 2014 at 3:56 pm ET

Ready for Hillary? Not in Middle America

Elite donors in New York, California account for bulk of super PAC’s $1.25 million


Hillary Clinton (Matt Rourke/AP)

Scores of New Yorkers and Californians — but relatively few folks in Middle America — are already backing a super PAC designed to boost Democrat Hillary Clinton should she run for president in 2016.

Residents of New York, which Clinton represented in the U.S. Senate, and California have combined to give more than $500,000 to the Ready for Hillary super PAC over the first six months of the year, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission reports filed today.

That’s more than 40 percent of the $1.25 million Ready for Hillary reported raising since it was launched in January.

Both states are frequently targeted for campaign cash by politicians on both sides of the aisle.

While super PACs are legally allowed to collect donations of any size, Ready for Hillary has voluntarily capped its contributions at $25,000. Ready for Hillary collected two-dozen contributions at this level, and they account for nearly half of the funds that the Democratic group received during the first six months of 2013.

Of these two-dozen “maximum” contributions, seven come from Californians and five from New Yorkers.

They include:

  • Jack Bendheim, president and chairman of the board of Phibro Animal Health Corp., a leading manufacturer and marketer of animal health pharmaceuticals, who raised more than $100,000 for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign
  • Scott Bessent, the chief investment officer at the Soros Fund Management, the family investment vehicle of liberal billionaire George Soros*
  • Art historian Agnes Gund, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2010 to serve on the board of trustees of the National Council on the Arts
  • James Hormel, chairman of the financial company Equidex, Inc., who served as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg under President Bill Clinton
  • Irwin Jacobs, co-founder and former chairman of telecommunications company Qualcomm, as well as his wife Joan, who together raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s 2012 re-election efforts
  • Philanthropist Ann Tenenbaum, a longtime Clinton ally who has hosted the Clintons at her home in the Hamptons
  • Susie Tompkins Buell, co-founder of the Esprit clothing company who raised at least $100,000 for Clinton’s 2008 campaign and now is a founding member of Ready for Hillary’s National Finance Council

Millionaire developer Alonzo Cantu of Texas likewise donated $25,000. So did former chairwoman of the Tennessee Public Service Commission Jane Eskind — who sat on Clinton’s 2008 Tennessee Steering Committee — and Cynthia Shapira, who serves as a senior policy advisory to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in Pennsylvania.

Another notable $25,000 donor is former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan, who bundled more than $100,000 for Clinton’s 2008 presidential run. Lundergan is the father of Alison Lundergan Grimes, herself a Democrat who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the 2014 midterm election.

Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia and Tennessee round out the top five list of places whose residents are already supporting a potential Clinton presidential bid.

Meanwhile, Ready for Hillary reported raising roughly $500 from one resident of Iowa, which conducts the nation’s first presidential nomination caucuses, and $250 from a single resident of New Hampshire, which conducts the first presidential primary elections.

Federal law requires information about donors who give more than $200 to political committees to be publicly reported, including donors’ address, employer and occupation. Individuals who give less than $200 are not required to be disclosed, and Ready for Hillary has accepted roughly $200,000 in such contributions so far this year.

Ready for Hillary reported itemized donations from individuals in 35 states, the District of Columbia and the territory of Puerto Rico, according to the Center for Public Integrity’s analysis, though super PAC spokesman Seth Bringman noted that the group has received financial support from more than 10,000 donors in “all 50 states,” as well as “American military bases throughout the world.”

“We are changing the game of what a successful super PAC can be,” Bringman added. “We’re not about seven-figure checks, TV ads or just two states.”

Erin Quinn contributed to this report.

*The Center for Public Integrity has received financial support from Soros’s Open Society Foundation. See the Center’s list of donors here.

Read more in Money and Democracy

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