Donald Trump is to court billionaires at a $110 million Palm Beach mansion fundraiser Thursday in a new drive to secure deep-pocketed donors as he seems poised to win the Republican primary.
Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson is hosting the intimate cocktail party and dinner that could include Woody Johnson and Ronald Lauder.
Paulson has personally reached out to fewer than 20 high-net worth individuals, all of whom have previously supported Trump for the fundraiser, sources add.
Rebekah Mercer, a prominent Republican donor whose donations to Cambridge Analytica in 2016 may have swung the election for Trump, was also invited but isn’t expected to attend. Johnson did not return a request for comment; Lauder declined comment.
While Paulson and Trump have been friendly for decades, the Trump camp is also beginning to put out feelers to candidates who haven’t always been so positive about the MAGA agenda, sources told The Post.
Those include GOP megadonor Andy Sabin, who had supported Nikki Haley in the primary but told her “to walk away” from her campaign last week. He told The Post he received a call from Trump fundraisers about donating.
While Sabin is quick to say he’ll “hold his nose and vote for Trump,” that isn’t translating to cash for Trump’s campaign. “I won’t give them a dime,” he said.
Sabin also got a quick response from the Haley team when he told her to quit: they sent back his $6,600 check, Sabin added.
Trump’s single fundraiser is in contrast to a renewed push by Haley, who remains in the Republican primary and on Tuesday was starting a 10-day fundraising drive with a reception in New York where co-hosts included billionaires Ken Langone, Henry Kravis, Leonard Stern, Cliff Asness, and Stanley Druckenmiller.
It also contrasted with a fundraising drive by President Joe Biden in Trump’s home state of Florida, where he attended two fundraisers Tuesday.
Biden has already raised $235 million since he announced his bid in April, 2023.
Trump’s political finances are far more complicated. Some reports suggested he already had an estimated $500 million in his coffers according to Open Secrets when he announced his candidacy in 2022.
But between the donations to his campaign, his Super PAC and his legal fight fund it is difficult to determine how much he has raised since money from his PAC has been used to pay legal fees.
The campaign has raised around $70 million this year while his Super PAC has raised an estimated $99.5 million but according to reports he went into 2024 with only $23 million cash on hand.
Given much of that cash has come from small donors, some election watchers are skeptical that Trump will be able to keep fundraising vast sums without a few billionaires by his side.
Historically significant Republican fundraisers like Steve Schwarzman, Thomas Petterffy, and David Duffield have yet to publicly throw support behind Trump.
But in recent months, Mercer, Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, Crownquest oil tycoon Timothy Dunn and construction heiress Diane Hendricks have begun to embrace Trump over the last few months, Politico reported.
Other donors who embraced Trump at the beginning of last year include Timothy Mellon, former Small Business Administration head Linda McMahon, GeoSouthern Energy CEO George Bishop, and real estate developer Geoffrey Bishop, according to the Politico report.
This fundraising cycle, Trump seems to be relying on less well-known donors like hotel tycoon Don Ahern, casino billionaires and former UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta and aerospace titan Robert Bigelow who haven’t previously been seen as political king-makers.
Politico also reported that other donors including Howard Lutnick, Jimmy John Liautaud of the Jimmy John meat fortune, Steve Wynn, and Harold Hamm are expected to jump into the fundraising game when Trump hosts an event at Mar-a-Lago next month.
“It’s inevitable that eventually most big names will get behind Trump,” one cynical Wall Street political donor told The Post of the shift away from Haley. “It’s just a matter of time.”
Another source adds that Wall Street types will have no choice but to fall in line given Trump is positioning himself as a candidate with far better economic policies than Joe Biden.
“They have to acknowledge his policies worked,” another source close to Trump added.
But even if those on Wall Street do “hold their nose” and vote for Trump, as Sabin recommends, that doesn’t mean they’ll be funneling millions his way.
“Trump would welcome any financial support… it’s much more expensive to run this year,” a campaign fundraising source adds. “I don’t think Trump has to match dollar to dollar to win.. the GOP is always outspent 2:1.”
In 2020 Trump spent around $780 million while Biden spent $1.42 billion, according to Open Secrets — and some campaign sources close to Trump predict this election he’ll need even more cash than he did last time.
Paulson was one of the first major financiers on Wall Street to back Trump’s then long-shot 2016 presidential bid, served on his economic advisory team and was floated as a potential Treasury Secretary.
He is worth an estimated $5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, and is embroiled in a nasty divorce as his wife Jenny demands she receive at least $1 billion.
In 2020, Paulson continued his support and hosted a $500,000-per-couple dinner at his home in Southampton; it’s unclear if he has any political aspirations should Trump win in 2024.
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