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From Big Oil to Big Tech to Wall Street, billionaires are trying to influence the upcoming election.


Clockwise from upper left: Billionaires Tim Dunn, Sheryl Sandberg, Bernard Marcus, Vince and Linda McMahon, Liz and Dick Uihlein, and Haim Saban.

As if U.S. billionaires don’t already have enough power and influence, they also splurge evermore of their wealth on pivotal elections that determine who will govern the nation, whether those be presidential or midterm races.

With the 2024 presidential election heating up, this time is no different.

Billionaire interventions in elections impact us all. How? Through their wealth and access, billionaires have an outsized influence over our lives. They pursue interests, ranging from corporate tax cuts to weakening climate legislation, that benefit them while hurting us. And unlike us, billionaires have the means to donate hundreds of thousands — or millions, and even tens of millions — into a single election cycle through huge contributions to political action committees (PACs).

LittleSis scoured campaign finance reports and news articles to find out which billionaires are getting a head start in intervening in the current presidential race.

So far, sectors represented by different billionaires  — from Big Tech to Big Oil and from Wall Street to Hollywood — are lining up behind Biden, Trump, or both. Some of these billionaires are motivated by hard-right ideology or liberal-savior complexes, while others are merely operating out of cold financial self-interest. Many of these billionaires also represent multiple sectors — venture capitalist investors who own tech companies, for example, or entertainment moguls who also own holding companies that also invest in real estate.

Here’s a run-down of some of the prominent billionaires throwing big cash into the 2024 election. These are just some of the billionaire donors we know about so far. Stay tuned for updates throughout the year by following @twittlesis on X (formerly Twitter).

Far-Right Oil Billionaires Back Trump

A handful of hard-right oil billionaires are donating big money toward the election of Donald Trump, who has promised to support the fossil fuel industry and effectively dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency. 

The most influential of these wealthy oil donors is almost certainly Tim Dunn.

If you’re not from Texas, you probably haven’t heard of Tim Dunn, an ultra-conservative fracking billionaire who has spent tens of millions of dollars driving Texas politics to the far-right. In the words of the Texas Tribune, Dunn “wants to turn Texas into a christian theocracy.”

Now, as one of the biggest billionaire donors to the 2024 presidential race, Dunn is taking his far-right quest national. In December 2023, Dunn gave a whopping $5 million to Make American Great Again Inc, a pro-Trump SuperPAC.

Dunn made his fortune buying up land in West Texas before the fracking boom began in the 2000s. His oil and gas company, CrownQuest, quickly became one of the top oil and gas producers in Texas.

Dunn didn’t go at it alone. His operations were financed by an energy-focused private equity firm called LimeRock Partners. As we reported in 2020, top universities and philanthropic foundations were helping to bankroll Dunn’s operations by investing in the LimeRock funds that financed CrownQuest.

Already an oil billionaire, Dunn cashed in further when, last year, he sold off CrownRock to the oil behemoth Occidental. Dunn is set to rake in billions from the deal, which is valued at about $12 billion.

Dunn’s main political project over the past two decades has been driving Texas politics to the far-right. As we noted in a 2019 report, he’s done this by financing organizations that push reactionary agendas around everything from LQBTQ and reproductive rights to fighting public education and voting rights. He’s also donated millions to ultra-right GOP politicians to primary traditional Republicans.

All told, Dunn’s given over $25 million to Texas politicians and groups since 2000.

Some of his key vehicles have been groups like Empower Texans, Texas Public Policy Foundation, and Defend Texas Liberty, the latter which faced a major scandal when one of its leaders met with white nationalist Nick Fuentes. Now he’s funding new operations like Texas Scorecard and  Texans United for a Conservative Majority.

While Dunn previously gave hundreds of thousands of dollars toward trying to reelect Donald Trump in 2020, he’s now going all in as a major national donor seeking to influence a potential second Trump administration.

Moreover, as the Wall Street Journal points out, Dunn-funded think tanks and groups like the Center for Renewing America, run by former Trump official Russell Vought, and America First Legal, run by Stephen Miller, and the America First Policy Institute will play a role in shaping and staffing a new Trump administration.

Dunn isn’t the only big fossil fuel donor in the 2024 presidential election. Harold Hamm, founder and chairman of Continental Resources, among the top ten U.S. oil producers, donated $200,000 to Trump’s election during a visit to Mar-a-Lago last November. Hamm is worth $18.5 billion.

George Bishop, founder of oil and gas company GeoSouthern Energy, donated $1 million to Trump’s election last October. Bishop is worth $3.2 billion. Kelcy Warren, co-founder of Dakota Access Pipeline owner Energy Transfer, has given $14,900 towards Trump’s 2024 election. Warren is worth $6 billion.

Trump is conducting ongoing fundraising efforts among oil executives. Some fossil fuel billionaires donated to other candidates in the GOP primary, like Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis, but are now turning to Trump. 

Overall, according to Open Secrets, the top 20 oil and gas donors to the 2023-24 election cycle have given a combined $96.3 million, with Koch Industries leading the way. 

This fossil fuel electoral spending impacts us all: while we desperately need to move away from burning oil, gas and coal, which is driving the climate catastrophe, corporate interests profiting from climate chaos are able to gain sway and influence with politicians through showering them with millions.

Big Tech Loves Biden

Aside from the occasional Peter Thiel or Elon Musk, the billionaires of Big Tech have long largely aligned themselves with the Democrats ever since Bill Clinton’s presidency in the 1990s.

That trend looks to be continuing in 2024.

Two major Biden donors have ties to Silicon Valley powerhouses Meta (parent company of Facebook and Instagram) and Alphabet (parent company of Google).

Sheryl Sandberg, worth $2.2 billion, served as the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook (which became Meta) from 2008 to 2022. She still sits on Meta’s board of directors.

As Meta COO, she oversaw the company’s operations as it expanded into one of the world’s biggest corporations and drew criticism for mass surveillance of users and racially biased monitoring of hate speech, among other scandals.

Sandberg is well-known for her well-marketed “lean-in” philosophy, which many have criticized as a corporate-aligned version of “girl-boss” or “trickle-down” feminism. Indeed, her feminist values seem to apply more to CEOs and wealthy professionals than working class women. For example, when women hotel workers, who were trying to unionize at a Havard-owned hotel, asked Sandberg to meet with them when she was visiting Harvard, Sandberg turned them down.

In December 2023, Sandberg made a $500,000 donation to the pro-Biden Future Forward PAC. Her husband, Thomas Bernthal, also made a donation of the same amount.

Another big Biden donor is Sandberg’s fellow Big Tech billionaire Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO and board member of Alphabet, Google parent company. Schmidt is worth $22.8 billion.

In 2019, activists and Google employees protested Schmidt when he spoke at Stanford for “offenses” that included “abetting censorship of human rights information in China and failing to hold a senior Google executive accountable for verified sexual harassment claims filed against him,” according to the Stanford Daily.

Schmidt made two donations in December 2023 and February 2024 totaling $826,000 to the Biden Victory Fund.

Biden has also been raking in donations from tech billionaires like former Facebook President Sean Parker; Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs; LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman; and others. 

Big Tech’s huge donations to top politicians should concern us all. These billionaires and their corporations are hoping to weaken and evade regulations that protect the public and gobble up subsidies that could otherwise go to our communities and public services.

Ultra-Right Manufacturing and Retail Sales Ideologues

There’s a category of parochial ultra-right billionaires who have used their fortunes made in manufacturing and product sales to influence national politics. The Uihleins are a prime example.

Liz and Dick Uihlein made billions off the workers at Uline, a privately owned shipping and packaging supplies company that they confounded and oversee. Far from a rags to riches story, Dick is an heir to the Schlitz beer fortune and his father was a rightwing John Bircher

The Uihleins, who are married, have ramped up their political spending over the past two decades as their wealth has skyrocketed. Open Secrets reports that they’ve “collectively given more than $250 million to federal candidates and political groups since the 2016 election cycle,” with $233 million coming from Dick.

The Uihleins backed Trump in 2020, pouring $3.3 million into the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action. Now, after briefly flirting with Ron DeSantis, they’re back to funding Trump in 2024. Open Secrets says they’ve spent over $20 million on federal elections in the first six months of the 2024 electron cycle alone.

“Few political donors are as influential, yet little known, as Liz and Dick Uihlein,” the New York Times noted in 2018. “The Midwestern couple has joined the upper pantheon of Republican donors alongside names like Koch, Mercer and Adelson.”

The Uileins pour millions into dark money groups and politicians to pursue an agenda of cutting taxes on the wealthy, easy access to assault weapons, attacking trans and abortion rights, and election denialism.

Like other provincial billionaires, they also rule over their hometown — in this case, Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin — like feudal lords, intervening in everything from building boat ramps to school Covid-19 safety policies (which the Uihleins opposed).

Other big donors that fall into this category include Bernie Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot, who is worth $9 billion. Marcus gave $1 million to the pro-Trump PAC Make America Great Again Inc in November 2023. As we’ve noted before, Marcus also bankrolls union-busting and rightwing Zionist groups.

Diana Hendricks, worth $20.9 billion, founded and chairs ABC Supply, a wholesale distributor of roofing, siding, and windows supplies. She also oversees Hendricks Holdings and its wider portfolio of similar companies. Hendricks gave an astounding $5 million to the Make America Great Again Inc. PAC in September 2023.

Not all billionaires profiting from hard commodities back Trump. Gwendolyn Sontheim Meyer, heir to the Cargill food giant fortune, gave $800,000 to the Biden Victory Fund PAC in April 2023. Meyer is worth $5 billion.

Wall Street and Real Estate Play Both Sides

Wall Street billionaires — asset managers, private equity barons, big investors and banks — are always top donors in presidential elections. That’s the case in 2024 across the political aisle.

And while other sections of this post are focusing on billionaire donors directly giving to the presidential race, we’re starting here with a billionaire who has been giving to local races while also making headlines around the presidential race for other reasons.

Jeffrey Yass, worth $27.8 billion, is the wealthiest person in Pennsylvania. He’s the cofounder of Susquehanna International Group, a top Wall Street proprietary trading firm. This means that Yass invests directly to make himself richer, not to earn client fees. His investments include a 7% stake, worth $33 billion, in ByteDance, owner of the popular social media app TikTok.

In recent years, Yass has entered the high echelons of ultra-conservative donors, and his name should be mentioned with the likes of Koch, Adelson, and Thiel. 

As LittleSis has documented, and as the campaign #AllEyesOnYass shows, Yass pushes an agenda of school privatization, corporate-friendly tax policies, and attacks on workers, abortion rights, and LGBTQ+ people through a web of groups that he bankrolls, including Commonwealth Partners, Commonwealth Foundation, Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania family Institute, and others.

Yass’s main passion, though, is going after public education, and he’s teamed up with former Trump education secretary Betsy DeVos to try to crush public schools.

Yass donated an astounding $47 million during the 2022 midterm elections, and so far he’s donated $55 million during the 2024 election cycle. He has tried to defeat progressive candidates in Pennsylvania like Rep. Summer Lee, who won her April 2023 primary race despite Yass donating big toward her opponent.

While Yass hasn’t donated towards Trump’s re-election, he and Susquehanna International Group are the largest institutional shareholder of the company that has recently merged with Truth Social, Trump’s social media company. Moreover, after meeting with Yass earlier this year, Trump suddenly switched his position on a TikTok ban, coming out in opposition to the ban of the company that Yass has a huge stake in.

There are rumors that Yass could have a cabinet position — potentially as treasury secretary —  in a new Trump administration.

Along with Jeff Yass, a host of other Wall Street bigwigs are influencing the 2024 election.

Nelson Peltz is the billionaire cofounder of Trian Partners, a hedge fund that oversees around $7.45 billion in assets, and whose portfolio companies have included Procter & Gamble, Sysco, Invesco, Unilever, and Wendy’s.

Peltz recently made headlines with his failed proxy battle to takeover Disney, and he’s long been the focus of a campaign by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to get Wendy’s, which Peltz chairs and where he’s the top shareholder, to join the Fair Food Program.

In 2020, Peltz hosted a lavish fundraiser for Trump at his $136.4 million Palm Beach estate. Peltz temporarily distanced himself from Trump after the January 6th insurrection, but now he’s back in the Trump fold, having recently hosted a breakfast with Trump attended by a slew of fellow billionaires, including hotel baron Steve Wynn and Tesla and X CEO Elon Musk. The Washington Post reports that Peltz is now “hosting fundraisers to support the former president’s reelection.”

Why is Peltz now backing Trump despite supposedly abandoning him January 6? One word: taxes. Another big Wall Street Trump backer is John Paulson, who recently hosted a $50.5 million fundraiser for Trump.

Biden has his own crew of big Wall Street donors, including Ron Conway, Michael Moritz, George Soros, Peter Lowy and more. In 2020, Biden raked in Wall Street billionaire money, so this is likely just the beginning.

Some billionaire developers and real estate tycoons have also thrown big money into the 2024 race. For example, Neil Bluhm, the cofounder of mega-developer JMB Realty and owner of several casinos who is worth $6.4 billion, gave $929,600 to the Biden Victory Fund in September 2023 (his daughter Leslie Bluhm also gave $500,000 to FF PAC in December 2023), and developer Dan Tishman gave $250,000 to the Biden Victory Fund in September 2023. Meanwhile, apartment developer Geoffrey Palmer, worth $3.1 billion, has given a whopping $2 million to the pro-Trump Make America Great Again Inc. 

Sports and Entertainment Billionaires Donate Millions

It’s no secret that a major subset of the larger billionaire class comes from the mass entertainment industry, from Hollywood to casinos to sports franchises. These billionaires are major donors so far in the 2024 presidential election, and they donate on all sides.

You might associate Haim Saban with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Indeed, one of his companies, Saban Entertainment, owned the show. But Saban, worth $3 billion, has a larger business empire, Saban Capital Group, that owns everything from student housing units to digital media services to — of course — films and shows. 

Saban has long been a major Democratic political donor, especially to Bill and Hillary Clinton. In 2016, one reporter even claimed that “no single political patron has done more for the Clintons over the span of their careers.” Now Saban is donating big towards Biden’s 2024 reelection: he and his wife Cheryl gave a combined $1,859,199 to the Biden Victory Fund through two donations in September 2023 and February 2024. Saban also hosted a fundraiser for Biden at his Los Angeles home.

Why does Saban donate millions? According to Saban: “I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.” Indeed, Saban is a major donor to Zionist groups, including Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and he has no qualms about directly lashing out at politicians who criticize Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

Other entertainment industry billionaire Biden donors include Jeffrey Katzenberg, who cofounded the Hollywood studio Dreamworks with fellow billionaires David Geffen and Stephen Spielberg — the latter whom is also a big 2024 Biden donor.

But make no mistake: Trump has his own billionaire entertainment and sports billionaire donors. 

A major one is Vincent McMahon, the disgraced scandal-ridden former chairman of TKO Holdings, which owns World Wrestling Entertainment and Ultimate Fighting Championship. McMahon is worth $2.7 billion, and he’s married to Linda McMahon, a close Trump ally who served in his presidential cabinet as head of the Small Business Administration. Linda McMahon donated $10 million to Trump’s Make America Great Again Inc SuperPAC over the past several months.

Trump and Vincent McMahon have been close for decades. Trump hosted two Wrestlemania tournaments in the 1980s and even staged a tussle with McMahon in the wrestling ring. McMahon also covered $5 million in expenses for the Donald J. Trump Foundation, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Another billionaire Trump donor is Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets, who also served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Kingdom. Johnson is worth $3.2 billion and gave $1 million to Trump’s Make America Great Again Inc. SuperPAC. Hotel and casino mogul Phil Ruffin, worth $2.6 billion, is also a close Trump friend and donor.

Other sports and entertainment billionaires — including Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross, and others  — previously donated big to Trump, so there is surely more of this to come.

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This is just a partial list of some of the most prominent and powerful billionaires who have already donated huge sums towards the 2024 presidential race. Many donations are only disclosed quarterly, meaning we sometimes have to wait months to find out about them. There will surely be more big billionaire donors and donations to come.

LittleSis will periodically update the map in this post and share out new developments in the billionaire donor beat on our social media. Stay tuned!