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AP Photo/Paul Vernon
Pulling the strings.

The Republican Party’s major donors are writing big checks to everyone but Trump

By Hanna Kozlowska

Donald Trump’s lead is slipping in the early voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa, and the Republican Party’s heavyweight donors are spreading cash to his rivals in anticipation that his prospects are in terminal decline.

Wealthy conservatives affiliated with the billionaire Koch brothers have already written $20 million worth of checks to nominally independent political committees known as super PACS, which each support a specific Republican presidential candidate, according to the Guardian. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, an early recipient of the Koch allies’ largesse, dropped out of the race last month.

The donations from people within the donor network of about 200 wealthy conservatives, overseen by Charles and David Koch, include, according to the Guardian:

  • A $11 million donation into Cruz’s super PAC by hedge-fund executive Robert Mercer, of which $500,000 was subsequently routed to Carly Fiorina’s Super PAC.
  • $1.5 million donation from Helen Schwab, the wife of investor Charles Schwab, to Bush’s Super PAC
  • A $100,000 donation to senator Marco Rubio’s Super PAC by conservative donor Randy Kendrick..
  • Twin $100,000 donations to Super PACs backing Rubio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush by hedge fund executive Ken Griffin.

According to Reuters, the Koch brothers themselves are “taking a serious look” at Fiorina, following a strong performance in the second presidential debate last month. Reuters also reported a $100,000 check to Fiorina’s Super PAC by Dallas philanthropist Elloine Clark. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has not yet picked a candidate to fully back in 2016, but has given a seven-figure sum to a non-profit affiliated with Rubio, according to the Guardian.

In total, the Koch donor network plans to spend almost $900 million on the 2016 presidential campaign. Much of the money will be spent by non-profit groups that do not have to disclose their donors.