Since winning South Carolina and forming a moderate Voltron with Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg just before Super Tuesday, Joe Biden has built up a 300-delegate lead and seems almost certain to win the Democratic primary.
Now that it looks like Biden will win, it’s especially worth reviewing who has been contributing to his campaign.
Many of the figures listed below were fundraising for Biden well before South Carolina, when it looked like his campaign would suffer the same fate as his fruitless ‘88 and ‘08 runs — if Biden wins the general, why wouldn’t that early trust and support be rewarded with exclusive access, ambassador sinecures, and general good will? That’s certainly been the model for presidencies past.
So, here’s who’s funding the Biden campaign:
Unite the Country
At the beginning of his campaign, Biden bowed to public pressure and disavowed support from SuperPACs during the primary.
But in October 2019, the Biden campaign announced that he was reversing that position, using the excuse that he needed more resources to counteract interference from Trump and Russia (the real reason: at the time, Biden was being outraised by not just Bernie, but also Warren and Buttigieg).
Reid Hoffman (Greylock Partners)
- Interests: Venture capital
- Est. net worth: $1.8 billion
- Contributions to Unite the Country: $1.5 million
Hoffman is one of the most prominent investors in Silicon Valley. He was an early employee at PayPal (hired as COO in 2000) and a co-founder of LinkedIn. Now, he’s a member of Greylock Partners, a venture capital firm that manages over $3.5 billion in assets.
Recently, Hoffman apologized for hosting a dinner with Jeffrey Epstein in 2015 (Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Peter Thiel also attended).
Another entry in the “Reid Hoffman apologizes” genre: Hoffman now regrets contributing $750,000 to American Engagement Technologies, a pro-Democrat organization that operated a fake Russian botnet and attempted to make it look like Russia was interfering to support Republican senate candidate Roy Moore in 2017.
Yaron Minsky & Dr. Lisa Minsky-Primus (Jane Street)
- Interests: High-frequency trading
- Est. net worth: Unknown
- Contributions to Unite the Country: $1.4 million ($1 million from Yaron and $400,000 from Lisa)
Yaron Minsky heads the Technology group at Jane Street Capital, a Wall Street firm involved in high-frequency trading. A million dollars from Yaron and 400k from his wife, the physician Dr. Lisa Minsky-Primus, makes his household the second-biggest known contributor to Unite the Country.
Richard C. Blum (Blum Capital)
The billionaire Blum happens to be the husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Recently, Feinstein was named as one of four senators who dumped millions of dollars in stock after being briefed on the coronavirus threat.
That was far from the first time Feinstein and Blum have been associated with shady insider dealing.
Blum runs a private equity firm, Blum Capital, which has a stake in many large companies. One of those companies is CBRE, the biggest real estate firm in the world. After winning a contract to sell USPS properties, CBRE has been accused of selling properties for less than what they’re worth to business partners, as well as acting as both the buyer and seller of properties while charging a commission fee as high as 6%.
And when Feinstein was the head of the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee, she approved over $1.5 billion in construction contracts to companies owned by Blum.
George Marcus (Marcus & Millichap)
The Greek-American real estate mogul George Marcus is another billionaire who’s contributed $1 million+ to Joe Biden’s SuperPAC.
Joe Kiani (Masimo)
- Interests: Medical technology
- Est. net worth: $100 million
- Contributions to Unite the Country: $1 million
Kiani is no stranger to DC. In 2012, he made a sizable contribution to the Obama Victory Fund just before meeting with White House officials while his medical technology company Masimo lobbied for repealing a tax on medical devices.
Also, a Propublica investigation found that Masimo has maintained a feud with the FDA over the company not adequately responding to complaints about their devices.
Alan Leventhal (Beacon Capital)
- Interests: Real estate
- Est. net worth: $1 billion
- Contributions to Unite the Country: $250,000
Leventhal, the CEO of the real estate firm Beacon Capital, was subpoenaed in a 1997 investigation into Democratic contributors receiving extraordinary access to the Clinton White House. After raising large sums for Clinton, Leventhal was later awarded a very favorable contract to operate a loan program for HUD.
Ron Conway (SV Angel)
Known as “the Godfather of Silicon Valley”, Conway has invested in hundreds of tech companies through his seed fund SV Angel.
Conway is also a fixture in San Francisco politics. In 2015, he sent an email to the heads of companies he’s invested in, instructing them to tell their employees to vote a certain way in an upcoming local election. In 2016, Conway bankrolled a ballot measure for allowing police to clear the streets and confiscate the belongings of homeless people. And in 2018, his wife funded attack ads against progressive San Francisco mayoral candidate Jane Kim.
While Unite the Country has raised over $10 million, that’s just a fraction of the $80 million+ that’s been raised by Biden’s standard campaign.
At the exact time when people were least likely to be paying attention – 11pm on the Friday night after Christmas – the Biden campaign released a list of bundlers who have raised more than $25,000 for his campaign.
Biden’s bundlers include many major players of Washington, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood, such as:
- Bob Wislow: Chairman of CBRE.
- Laurence Pelosi: Nephew of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, cousin and former campaign treasurer of California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
- Mark Arabo: Appointed to the California Workforce Development Board by Gov. Newsom despite losing an embezzlement lawsuit two years before (“I’ve never heard so much fiction under oath” the judge said of Arabo).
- Richard Sirota: Former campaign treasurer of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
- Timothy Shriver: Chairman of the Special Olympics, son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Sargent Shriver.
- Harry Sloan: Former Hollywood executive and California state financial chair for the Mitt Romney 2012 campaign, board member of the foreign policy think tank The McCain Institute.
- Erskine Bowles: Former chief of staff under Clinton and the “Bowles” half of the Simpson-Bowles commission, which recommended cutting Social Security and other welfare programs in order to reduce the national debt under Obama. Now a board member of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and the foreign policy think tank CSIS.
- John Morgan: Founder of the law firm Morgan & Morgan. Altogether, employees of Morgan & Morgan have donated over $400,000 to the Biden campaign.
- Elizabeth Frawley Bagley: The widow of an heir to the RJ Reynolds tobacco fortune, Bagley raised enough for the Clinton and Obama campaigns that she was named US Ambassador to Portugal under Clinton and Special Representative for Global Partnerships under Obama.
- Brian Kreiter: The COO of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates and former management consultant at McKinsey & Company.
- Alex Katz: The VP of Government Relations at the sprawling financial firm The Blackstone Group and a former aide to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
- Michael Schrum: The Group CFO of the Bermuda-based Butterfield Bank and former CFO of HSBC Bermuda.
- Mark Gilbert: Former MLB player, Senior VP at Goldman Sachs, and US Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa under Obama.
- Sanjeev Mehra: Another former Goldman Sachs executive.
- Eric Mindich: Yet another Goldman Sachs executive.
- Federico Peña: Former Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Energy under Clinton, Denver mayor, and board member of Wells Fargo.
- Charles Rittenberg: A bow tie-wearing male gynecologist.
- Sherry Lansing: Former CEO of Paramount and president of production at 20th Century Fox. A recent fundraising event for Biden hosted by Lansing was attended by Leonardo Dicaprio and Keegan-Michael Key.
- Jeffrey Katzenberg: Former chairman of Disney, co-founder of Dreamworks, and major Democratic fundraiser.
- David Cohen: A Senior VP and chief of lobbying for Comcast.
- Joe Waz: Senior Strategic Counselor for NBCUniversal.
- James Costos: Former HBO executive and US Ambassador to Spain and Andorra.
- David Zapolsky: A Senior VP and General Counsel for Amazon.
- Tom Girardi: Attorney, has appeared in 20+ episodes of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (married to cast member Erika Jayne).
- John Shirley: Former President of Microsoft.
- Brad Smith: Current President of Microsoft.
- Jeff Zients: Facebook board member and former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Obama. Featured in The American Prospect’s “Biden Do Not Reappoint List” for his corporate ties and fumbling of the 2014 fiscal cliff standoff.