By Jonathan Swan - 02/24/16 06:00 AM EST
Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump gives Lester Holt a C grade for debate Congress departs for recess until after Election Day House approves stopgap funding, averting costly shutdown MORE’s super-PAC has stayed mostly in the shadows so far this campaign, strategically hoarding its cash and doing as little as possible while Republican groups spend millions in a brutal primary battle.
Priorities USA has spent just a little over $6 million out of its $50 million-plus haul — a frugality based on the super-PAC’s assumption that Clinton will be the Democrats’ general election candidate.
Clinton and her campaign are not allowed to coordinate with Priorities USA — super-PACs are only allowed to raise unlimited funds if they are independent of the candidate — but the former secretary of State has been ridiculed for claiming in a recent debate that Priorities is “not my PAC.”
So quiet is Priorities USA’s strategy that it has not spent a penny on negative ads against Clinton’s chief rival, Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Finance: Congress poised to avoid shutdown | Yellen defends Fed from Trump | Why Obama needs PhRMA on trade Trump mocks Clinton for stumbling while sick with pneumonia Brent Budowsky: Sanders and Warren shine MORE and has yet to run an ad that even mentions the Vermont senator’s name, says the super-PAC’s spokesman, Justin Barasky.
The result of Priorities USA’s cash-hoarding strategy is that the mega-donors funding Clinton have largely avoided the spotlight.
But with new financial reports released to the Federal Election Commission, the major financiers behind the Democratic front-runner are becoming clear.
Here are Hillary Clinton’s seven biggest donors and how much they have given to Priorities USA since March 2015:
George Soros, who made his billions through hedge fund investments, is one of the left’s top donors. He made his biggest political splash in his failed attempt to unseat George W. Bush during the 2004 election cycle, when he became the top donor in the U.S., spending $23.7 million, according to the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity.
But Soros, who leads the massive pro-democracy network Open Society Foundation, had a quieter cycle in 2012 and gave just $1 million to the super-PAC supporting President Obama. Soros had apparently complained about his lack of access to Obama, according to a Hillary Clinton ally in emails released by the State Department. Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden also claimed Soros told her he regretted his decision to support Obama over Clinton in the 2008 primaries.
In 2016, Soros showed more enthusiasm for Clinton than he did in 2012 for Obama. He has already given Clinton’s super-PAC $7 million and has thrown a further $1 million to the American Bridge 21st Century super-PAC, which is led by top Clinton ally David Brock.
Los Angeles entertainment mogul Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl, have given more money over the years to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s political and philanthropic ventures than any other individuals, according to a comprehensive analysis by The Washington Post.
Saban, who made a fortune bringing the children’s TV show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to America, is a pro-Israel hawk.
Since launching her presidential campaign, Clinton has been eager to demonstrate to her mega-donor her unequivocal support for his No. 1 issue. In July, Clinton wrote Saban a letter on campaign stationery seeking his advice and pledging to work with him on countering the anti-Israel movement known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanction.
An heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, Jay Robert (J.B.) Pritzker runs The Pritzker Group, a private equity and venture capital firm. He has a net worth of $3.2 billion, according to Forbes, and he and his wife, Mary Kathryn, have already made six separate deposits into Clinton’s super-PAC, totaling $3.8 million.
The Pritzkers are major Democratic donors, and another member of the family, Penny PritzkerPenny PritzkerOvernight Cybersecurity: FBI probes possible hack of Dems' phones | Trump's '400-pound hacker' | Pressure builds on Yahoo | Poll trolls run wild Overnight Finance: Senate rejects funding bill as shutdown looms | Labor Dept. to probe Wells Fargo | Fed to ease stress test rules for small banks Pacific deal will boost exports for small businesses: report MORE, was a top Obama fundraiser and was appointed Commerce Secretary under the Obama administration.
Another donor whom the Bernie Sanders camp has added to its dirt list of Clinton Wall Street backers is the New York-based hedge fund billionaire James Simons.
Simons has a net worth of $15.5 billion, according to Forbes, and, after an early career serving as a code-breaker for the U.S. military, made his fortune applying his mathematical genius at the hedge fund he founded, Renaissance Technologies.
In a political twist, Renaissance Technologies is now led by one of the biggest donors on the right — Robert Mercer — who has spent $11 million supporting the presidential candidacy of Ted CruzTed CruzHouse approves stopgap funding, averting costly shutdown Overnight Tech: TV box plan faces crucial vote | Trump transition team to meet tech groups | Growing scrutiny of Yahoo security Could Snapchat be the digital bridge to younger voters? MORE.
Herb Sandler founded the California savings and loans company Golden West Financial Corporation but is now a full-time philanthropist. He says he is participating in the Giving Pledge initiative organized by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, whereby wealthy individuals pledge to give most of their wealth to philanthropy.
Sandler has also become a Democratic Party mega-donor in the era following the 2010 Citizens United decision, in which the Supreme Court paved the way for unlimited corporate and union spending on elections. Over the past two years alone, Sandler has given $2.5 million to Clinton’s super-PAC, $1 million to the climate change group founded by billionaire Tom Steyer and $700,000 to other Democratic super-PACs.
Another billionaire hedge fund manager, Donald Sussman has emerged as one of Clinton’s biggest super-PAC sponsors. Sussman has a long and colorful campaign finance history, including assisting the campaign of his ex-wife, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), according to a 2012 report by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.
Sussman has given more than $8.5 million in soft money to Democratic super-PACs and left-leaning groups since 2010, according to federal election records.
According to federal election records, Bay Area philanthropist Laure Woods channeled much of the money she donated to Clinton’s super-PAC through another outside group, the Progressive Women Silicon Valley Federal PAC.
Woods, who has given more than $3.2 million to progressive groups over the past two years alone, is the president and founder of Laurel Foundation, “a private foundation focused on the education, health and welfare of children.”