Sweet: Chicago mega-donor Ken Griffin spends on Senate, not Trump
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WASHINGTON — The GOP members of the Cubs-owning Ricketts clan are throwing in $1 million to help elect Donald Trump, while last month Chicago mega-donor Ken Griffin gave $2 million to a fund to help keep the Senate in Republican control.
Griffin, CEO of Citadel, has declined so far to say whether he supports Trump. Griffin contributed $5 million to the super PAC backing the presidential bid of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
He has not donated to any campaign fund related to Trump, so it looks like — and as of Thursday there are just 46 days until the election — Griffin is sitting this one out.
The Ricketts family is another story. If the Cubs plow through the playoffs and get to the World Series for the first time since 1945, the family’s political activities may be overshadowed for a few weeks before Election Day.
Joe Ricketts, the Cubs patriarch and his wife Marlene founded the Ending Spending conservative super PAC, overseen by son Todd, a Cubs board member and Wilmette businessman.
Earlier this year, during the GOP primaries, the Republican wing of the Ricketts family led what turned out to be an unsuccessful drive to derail Trump.
When it became clear Trump would be the nominee, the Ricketts started to back him. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, another Cubs board member, endorsed Trump. Todd Ricketts was at the GOP convention in Cleveland as a Trump delegate.
Joe and Marlene Ricketts are giving $1 million to defeat Clinton, with the money channeled through the Ricketts’ Future 45 fund, directed by longtime Ricketts’ political adviser Brian Baker. The effort will get off the ground taking shots at Clinton, rather than generating pro-Trump messaging and promotion.
Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is donating $5 million to Future 45. Adelson and his wife Miriam are among the biggest GOP donors in the nation.
“Future 45 intends to educate voters across the country about Sec. Clinton’s abysmal record and to show how her plans would be bad for the American people,” Baker said.
As for the Ricketts’ move to Trump, Baker said, “While the Ricketts supported other candidates in the primary, Donald Trump and Mike Pence won their nominations and the Ricketts believe it is time to come together as a party to win elections up and down the ballot this fall.”
Daughter Laura Ricketts, another Cubs board member, is a mega Democratic donor and fundraiser. She is the chairman of LPAC, the major Lesbian political action committee, and she was a Clinton superdelegate at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.
I asked Todd Ricketts about the impact of the family’s Trump support on Cubs fans.
“Our family has diverse views, just like every family,” he said. “But when it comes to the Chicago Cubs, I think we are all united in our desire for the Cubs to win the World Series.”
GRIFFIN SENATE PLAY
The latest Federal Election Commission reports for August show that Adelson and his wife, Miriam, contributed $20 million to the Senate Leadership Fund.
Griffin donated $2 million last month to the Senate Leadership Fund.
Last November, Griffin gave $2 million to the Freedom Partners Action Fund, part of the conservative political network of billionaire brother industrialists Charles and David Koch.
Griffin is also helping House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., keep the House under Republican control. Griffin donated $483,000 to the Team Ryan fund.
Other Illinois players in the Senate Leadership Fund are David Herro, the investment manger at Harris Associates, giving $250,000 last month; Winnetka’s Patrick Ryan, the Ryan Specialty Group chairman, $100,000; John Rowe, the former Exelon Corp chairman, $25,000; Lake Forest’s Alexander Stuart, North Star Investments president, $25,000; and Sam Zell, Equity Group Investment chairman, $250,000.
The Illinois Senate battle is one of the biggest in the nation, with Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., in a fight with Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.
While the Senate Leadership Fund is bulking up in the weeks before the election, Kirk is in competition with other Senate contenders who are gauged to have better odds to win then he does. It is an open question of whether Kirk will get a big assist from this fund.
Toward that end, Kirk backers, knowing that national super PACS may focus on better Senate bets, last year formed Independent Voice for Illinois.
The name is a takeoff on a central Kirk campaign theme and it has been spending on ads to oppose Duckworth. Griffin over 2015 and 2016 has given $350,000 to Independent Voice for Illinois. Last June, the Ricketts ESA fund gave $50,000 to this pro-Kirk fund.Tweets by @lynnsweet