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"They have better things to do" – Big Republican donors stay away from Trump

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference announcing a class action lawsuit against major tech companies at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 7, 2021 in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Several of the Republican Party's largest and most influential donors are signaling that, for the moment, at least, they have no plans to fund former President Donald Trump's political operation.

Wealthy financiers like Stephen Ross and Larry Ellison have instead chosen to spend money on the GOP's efforts to retake Congress in next year's midterm elections, or have supported potential 2024 presidential candidates like Sens. Marco Rubio from Florida and Tim Scott from South Carolina.

Donors are also concerned about how Trump's organization is spending the mountains of money it has raised from smaller donations.

"A lot of money, highly developed people just lose interest in this shitty show," said an advisor to long-time Trump ally in Silicon Valley. Many donors are tired of seeing the former president use his resources on rallies that often make false claims, including the fact that his election was stolen, this person said.

Trump hasn't ruled out running for president in 2024, and he hasn't made any official announcements. Its political action committees have raised large amounts of money through email and SMS appeals to supporters who frequently criticize President Joe Biden's performance, including most recently his handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Trump PACs had more than $ 100 million as of the first half of 2021. CNBC previously reported that its PACs spent nearly $ 8 million on legal fees and over $ 200,000 on their own real estate earlier this year.

“Donors do not donate from the goodness of their hearts. And right now they are being asked to donate to an organization that has no other purpose than pumping money to someone who doesn't need it and doesn't use it. “Said a Republican strategist who represents financiers on Wall Street. "You have better things to do."

The donor advisors speaking to CNBC declined to be featured in this story to avoid retaliation from Trump and his supporters.

A Trump spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

The pro-Trump Make America Great Again Action Super-PAC, which raised over $ 1.5 million in July and August, isn't without some wealthy donors, according to new federal electoral commission filings. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who is a passionate propagator of false claims about the 2020 election, is among the donors. As did the businesswoman and former GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler, the Texas bank director Andrew Beal and the casino magnate Phillip Ruffin.

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Larger Republican fundraising forces are instead focusing on efforts by the House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP leadership efforts to retake the House of Representatives, and funding pro-GOP redistricting efforts such as the National Republican Redistricting Trust. Others support the re-election campaigns of potential 2024 presidential candidates like Scott, Rubio and Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis.

Several people who previously supported Trump recently hosted a fundraiser for DeSantis & # 39; 2022 gubernatorial campaign in the Upper Hamptons, Long Island. The invitation to the July event shows that the event co-hosts included former Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and billionaire investors Stephen Ross, John Paulson and Ken Griffin.

Paulson was one of the few Wall Street donors to support Trump's 2020 presidential run in the final phase of the campaign.

Stephen Ross, who also owns the Miami Dolphins, came under fire in 2019 when he hosted a fundraiser for Trump in the Hamptons. Ross and other directors of Related Cos. are investors in the luxury fitness brand Equinox. SoulCycle and Equinox distanced themselves from the Trump event when customers threatened to boycott.

Wilbur Ross and a Paulson representative did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Stephen Ross declined to comment.

Neither Oracle CEO Larry Ellison nor Oracle CEO Safra Catz made large sums of money available to Trump's PACs after the election. Both helped raise money for Trump's re-election campaign. Ellison's California home was the site of a Trump fundraiser last year. However, in June of that year, Ellison donated $ 5 million to a super PAC that supported Scott's re-election efforts in South Carolina.

A spokesman for Catz and Ellison did not return a request for comment.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, whose PAC backed Trump in last year's election, was invited to host a New York fundraiser for Rubio's 2022 re-election campaign in September. The RJC's board of directors includes a number of influential Republicans, including Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, former Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt and former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

Trump may also not be able to count on financial help from Miriam Adelson, a mega-donor and widow of the late casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who died earlier this year. The couple were among the few business leaders who supported Trump in the last election. They gave millions to a pro-Trump super PAC in the last few months of the campaign.

Since her husband's death, Adelson has privately told her allies that she has no immediate plans to use much of her money in politics for the time being. That could change as the midterms approach. Records show that in June, Adelson contributed $ 5,000 to the Stand for America PAC, a committee formed by potential 2024 contender and former United Nations Trump Ambassador Nikki Haley.

A spokesman for Adelson's Las Vegas Sands company declined to comment.

Another major Trump and GOP financier is in legal hot water. Investor Tom Barrack was arrested for illegally lobbying then President Trump on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. Barrack has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Even if he had no issues with the Fed, Barrack had hinted that he might not have supported Trump, his longtime friend, for a run in 2024.

"Today it looks like it's a campaign of division that I'm not interested in," Barrack told Bloomberg News before he was arrested.

A Barrack spokesman did not return a request for comment.

Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah were huge supporters of Trump during the 2016 campaign, but there is no sign that they will support him in 2024. CNBC reported in 2018 that the Mercers were planning to cut their financial support for Trump.

Records show that the Mercers did not write major checks to Trump's PACs after his presidency.

For now, they are supporting a new face in GOP politics: "Hillbilly Elegy" author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance, who has taken several Trump-style nationalist positions after criticizing the former president in the past.

Robert and Rebekah Mercer together donated $ 150,000 to a Super PAC in March that supports Vance's candidacy for the Ohio Senate seat, vacated by retiring Republican Rob Portman.

Mercers representatives did not return requests for comments.

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