The Biden campaign has trumpeted its success with small donations, but in the last six months it has raised almost $200 million from donors who gave at least $100,000. As sums have grown, transparency has diminished.
By Shane Goldmacher
One Monday evening last month, Hillary Clinton and Senator Kamala Harris, and two actors who portrayed them on “Saturday Night Live,” Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph, gathered for a virtual fund-raiser benefiting the Biden campaign. By all accounts, the livestream was a smashing success: about 100,000 people watched and donated. The event raised $4.4 million.
That same night, Joseph R. Biden Jr. beamed into a more intimate affair of fewer than two dozen people: a $500,000-per-ticket fund-raiser hosted by the billionaire financier Haim Saban. It raised even more: $4.5 million.
While Mr. Biden’s campaign has trumpeted the small donations flooding in at record rates, the elite world of billionaires and multimillionaires has remained a critical cog in the Biden money machine. And as the size of checks has grown, the campaign has become less transparent, declining so far to disclose the names of its most influential check collectors, known as bundlers.
From Hollywood to Silicon Valley to Wall Street, Mr. Biden’s campaign has aggressively courted the megadonor class. It has raised almost $200 million from donors who gave at least $100,000 to his joint operations with the Democratic Party in the last six months — about twice as much as President Trump raised from six-figure donors in that time, according to an analysis of new federal records.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood producer, and his wife gave $1.4 million. Sean Parker, the tech entrepreneur, and his wife gave $1.2 million. Reed Hastings, the Netflix chief executive, and his wife gave $1.4 million. . And Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks executive who flirted with his own independent 2020 run, and his wife gave more than $825,000. Top executives with investment, private equity and venture capital firms like Blackstone, Bain Capital, Kleiner Perkins and Warburg Pincus all contributed handsomely.
This parade of industry giants delivered a surge in donations even as the progressive base of the Democratic Party agitates against the influence of billionaires and corporate titans. A group of progressives, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, signed a letter last week that reads like a warning shot to a potential Biden administration, urging the Senate to reject any future executive branch nominations of corporate lobbyists or corporate executives.
“Joe Biden says this is ‘Scranton versus Park Avenue’ but then he’s raising hundreds of millions of dollars from the Park Avenue types,” said Tyson Brody, a former research director for Senator Bernie Sanders who is supporting Mr. Biden this fall but wants to see less influence for wealthy donors.
Progressives have mostly set aside their differences with Mr. Biden to focus on the shared goal of defeating Mr. Trump, including over campaign finance. But should he win, Mr. Biden is expected to face pressure from the left on a range of issues, including climate change, expansion of the Supreme Court and elimination of the Electoral College.
“Joe Biden is running against the most corrupt and dishonest president in our history, and has done so while maintaining a standard of transparency and integrity that is far above how his opponent has conducted himself this campaign,” said T.J. Ducklo, a spokesman for Mr. Biden.
Source: Read Full Article