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Trump raised 5 times as much money from America’s top CEOs as Biden

As the Nov. 3 election sparks record campaign contributions, the CEOs of S&P 500 companies are helping to fund the war chests of President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden, while also contributing to other Republican and Democratic politicians.

In their political giving as individuals, these chief executives have combined to give more to Trump than Biden. Some 15 CEOs whose companies are components of the S&P 500
US:SPX
have donated a total of $2.489 million to Trump’s principal campaign committee, its joint fundraising groups with the Republican National Committee or pro-Trump super PACs.

Meanwhile, 30 chief execs have contributed $536,100 to Biden’s main campaign committee, its joint groups with the Democratic National Committee or pro-Biden super PACs. These figures come from a MarketWatch analysis of processed Federal Election Commission data on individual contributions made between January 2019 and August 2020. Anyone who held the CEO job in 2019 or 2020 at a company that was part of the S&P 500 is included.

As shown in the table below, the S&P CEOs giving the most to Trump were Intercontinental Exchange’s
US:ICE
 Jeffrey Sprecher, whose wife, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, faces a tough Senate race, and Las Vegas Sands’s
US:LVS
 Sheldon Adelson, a longtime major GOP donor. Also ranking high in dollar amounts donated were Vornado Realty Trust’s
US:VNO
 Steven Roth and Oracle’s
US:ORCL
 Safra Catz.

S&P 500 CEOs giving their own money to Trump’s campaign
CEO

Company

Amount

Recipient

Sector

1. Jeffrey Sprecher

Intercontinental Exchange

$1,000,000.00

America First Action

Financials

Jeffrey Sprecher

Intercontinental Exchange

$290,300.00

Trump Victory

Financials

Jeffrey Sprecher

Intercontinental Exchange

$5,600.00

Donald J. Trump for President

Financials

2. Sheldon Adelson

Las Vegas Sands

$580,600.00

Trump Victory

Consumer Discretionary

Sheldon Adelson

Las Vegas Sands

$5,600.00

Donald J. Trump for President

Consumer Discretionary

3. Steven Roth

Vornado Realty Trust

$200,000.00

Trump Victory

Real Estate

Steven Roth

Vornado Realty Trust

$200.00

Donald J. Trump for President

Real Estate

4. Safra Catz

Oracle

$125,000.00

Trump Victory

Information Technology

Safra Catz

Oracle

$5,600.00

Donald J. Trump for President

Information Technology

5. Jayson Adair

Copart

$100,000.00

Trump Victory

Industrials

Jayson Adair

Copart

$5,600.00

Donald J. Trump for President

Industrials

6. David Farr

Emerson Electric

$50,000.00

Trump Victory

Industrials

David Farr

Emerson Electric

$5,525.00

Donald J. Trump for President

Industrials

7. Timothy Sloan*

Wells Fargo

$35,500.00

Trump Victory

Financials

Timothy Sloan*

Wells Fargo

$5,600.00

Donald J. Trump for President

Financials

8. Alan Miller

Universal Health Services

$25,000.00

Trump Victory

Health Care

Alan Miller

Universal Health Services

$5,600.00

Donald J. Trump for President

Health Care

9. William Hornbuckle

MGM Resorts International

$17,500.63

Trump Victory

Consumer Discretionary

William Hornbuckle

MGM Resorts International

$5,600.00

Donald J. Trump for President

Consumer Discretionary

10. James Fish

Waste Management

$2,707.50

Donald J. Trump for President

Industrials

James Fish

Waste Management

$2,610.00

Trump Make America Great Again

Industrials

11. Scott Farmer

Cintas

$2,500.00

Trump Victory

Industrials

Scott Farmer

Cintas

$2,500.00

Donald J. Trump for President

Industrials

12. John Chiminski

Catalent

$2,043.02

Trump Make America Great Again

Health Care

John Chiminski

Catalent

$1,942.69

Donald J. Trump for President

Health Care

13. Scott Donnelly

Textron

$1,750.00

Trump Make America Great Again

Industrials

Scott Donnelly

Textron

$1,375.00

Donald J. Trump for President

Industrials

14. Steve Sanghi

Microchip Technology

$2,800.00

Donald J. Trump for President

Information Technology

15. Dan Dinges

Cabot Oil & Gas

$250.00

Trump Make America Great Again

Energy

Dan Dinges

Cabot Oil & Gas

$187.50

Donald J. Trump for President

Energy

Total

$2,489,491.34

* Former CEO who held the position during the FEC’s 2020 election cycle that started Jan. 1, 2019

Source: MarketWatch analysis of processed Federal Election Commission data on individual contributions made between January 2019 and August 2020

The S&P 500 bosses donating the most to Biden were Disney’s
US:DIS
 Bob Iger, who is currently the entertainment company’s executive chairman after leaving the CEO post in February, as well as Amphenol’s
US:APH
Richard Norwitt, DuPont’s
US:DD
Edward Breen, Merck’s
US:MRK
 Kenneth Frazier and Vertex Pharmaceuticals’s
US:VRTX
 Jeffrey Leiden.

Overall spending in this year’s election will approach $11 billion, easily topping the $7 billion spent (in today’s dollars) in the 2016 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit group that tracks money in politics.

One CEO, MGM Resorts International’s
US:MGM
 Bill Hornbuckle, gave to both Trump and Biden, according to MarketWatch’s analysis of disclosures. He contributed $17,501 to the Trump Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee with the RNC, plus the maximum amount of $5,600 to Trump’s primary campaign committee. He donated $2,800 to Biden’s main campaign committee.

Related:These are the basics of campaign finance in 2020 — in two handy charts

And see:Politicians keep coordinating with super PACs and other supposedly independent groups, study finds

S&P 500 CEOs giving their own money to Biden’s campaign
Company

Amount

Recipient

Sector

1. Robert Iger*

Disney

$250,000.00

Biden Victory Fund

Communication Services

Robert Iger*

Disney

$5,600.00

Biden for President

Communication Services

2. Edward Breen

Dupont De Nemours

$50,000.00

Biden Victory Fund

Materials

Edward Breen

Dupont De Nemours

$5,600.00

Biden for President

Materials

3. Kenneth Frazier

Merck

$50,000.00

Biden Victory Fund

Health Care

Kenneth Frazier

Merck

$5,600.00

Biden for President

Health Care

4. Richard Norwitt

Amphenol Corporation

$50,000.00

Biden Victory Fund

Information Technology

Richard Norwitt

Amphenol Corporation

$5,600.00

Biden for President

Information Technology

5. Jeffrey Leiden*

Vertex Pharmaceuticals

$25,000.00

Unite the Country

Health Care

6. David Kenny

Nielsen Holdings

$5,600.00

Biden for President

Industrials

David Kenny

Nielsen Holdings

$2,800.00

Biden Victory Fund

Industrials

7. Debra Cafaro

Ventas

$5,600.00

Biden for President

Real Estate

8. John Donahoe

Nike

$5,600.00

Biden for President

Consumer Discretionary

9. Ronald O’Hanley

State Street

$5,600.00

Biden for President

Financials

10. Ted Sarandos

Netflix

$5,600.00

Biden for President

Communication Services

11. Andrew Silvernail

Idex

$5,500.00

Biden for President

Industrials

12. Joshua Silverman

Etsy

$3,300.00

Biden for President

Consumer Discretionary

13. Stanley Bergman

Henry Schein

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Health Care

14. Steven Cahillane

Kellogg’s

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Consumer Staples

15. Steven Collis

Amerisourcebergen

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Health Care

16. Timothy Gokey

Broadridge Financial Solutions

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Information Technology

17. Reed Hastings

Netflix

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Communication Services

18. William Hornbuckle

MGM Resorts International

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Consumer Discretionary

19. Stephen Kaufer

Tripadvisor**

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Communication Services

20. Tom Leighton

Akamai

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Information Technology

21. Charlie Lowrey

Prudential Financial

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Financials

22. Joseph Margolis

Extra Space Storage

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Real Estate

23. Michael McMullen

Agilent

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Health Care

24. James Murren*

MGM Resorts International

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Consumer Discretionary

25. Sumit Roy

Realty Income

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Real Estate

26. Michael Schall

Essex Property Trust

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Real Estate

27. Arne Sorenson

Marriott International

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Consumer Discretionary

28. Owen Thomas

Boston Properties

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Real Estate

29. Bradley Tilden

Alaska Air Group

$2,800.00

Biden for President

Industrials

30. Devin Stockfish

Weyerhaeuser

$1,500.00

Biden for President

Real Estate

Total

$536,100.00

* Former CEO who held the position during the FEC’s 2020 election cycle that started Jan. 1, 2019

** Former S&P 500 company that was a component of the index during the FEC’s 2020 election cycle that started Jan. 1, 2019

Source: MarketWatch analysis of processed Federal Election Commission data on individual contributions made between January 2019 and August 2020

CEOs who have donated to Trump’s campaign may be showing that they’re pleased with his policies, such as the 2017 tax cuts, said Michael Beckel, research director at Issue One, a nonpartisan watchdog group that aims to reduce the influence of big money in politics.

“Some corporate executives may see their political contributions as good investments in policies that will benefit them,” Beckel told MarketWatch in an email. Many of them “see themselves as having a fiduciary responsibility to be active in politics.”

Execs also may donate “based on their own political preferences and ideological leanings,” even as their political contributions could “carry some risks for companies,” Beckel said. “An executive’s giving could turn off a segment of customers from their brand, and even lead to protests or boycotts.”

Bruce Freed, president of the Center for Political Accountability, a nonprofit that pushes for better disclosure of corporate political activity, also noted the potential challenges for CEOs as they vote with their wallets.

“Companies today face very serious risks — both reputational risks and bottom-line risks — for contributions that companies are making,” Freed said in an interview. The donations can “conflict with their core values and positions” on issues such as racial justice or climate change, he said, adding that his organization has explored the situation in its “Conflicted Consequences” and “Collision Course” reports.

“All of these things have made political spending much more controversial for companies and executives — and much riskier,” he said.

Related:Watchdog says Washington’s growing swampier, even as coronavirus lockdowns let Congress climb off ‘hamster wheel of fundraising’

And see:S&P 500 companies are protecting themselves from today’s inflamed politics, study finds

Companies’ responses

Intercontinental Exchange, Las Vegas Sands, Vornado Realty, Oracle, Disney, DuPont, Merck, Amphenol and Vertex didn’t respond to requests for comment. Oracle’s Catz worked in 2016 on Trump’s transition team, while Disney’s Iger and Merck’s Frazier are among the executives who have shown their opposition to the president’s actions by resigning from his White House councils. Iger cited Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, and Frazier was responding to the president’s initial reaction to racial violence in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.

A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo
US:WFC,
whose former chief executive, Tim Sloan, gave to Trump’s campaign, said his donation “was a personal contribution and was in no way related to his time as CEO of Wells Fargo, which ended a year and a half ago.” A Waste Management spokesman said the company doesn’t comment on the “personal political contributions of our employees.”

Among the Biden donors, a Boston Properties
US:BXP
 spokeswoman said “personal political contributions” made by the company’s CEO or other employees are “personal decisions.” A Marriott International
US:MAR
spokeswoman said the hotel company “will not be commenting on any personal contributions made by our CEO or any other executive,” and a Tripadvisor
US:TRIP
 spokesman said the travel company does “not comment on the personal contributions made by employees or executives within this company.” A Henry Schein
US:HSIC
 spokeswoman said the health-care products company “makes no national political campaign contributions, per its Worldwide Business Standards,” and “individual contributions are just that — individual donations that have nothing to do with the company.”

Netflix
US:NFLX,
Nielsen
US:NLSN
and Broadridge Financial Solutions
US:BR
 declined to comment. The other companies listed in the tables above didn’t respond to requests for comment.

S&P 500 CEOs give much more to Republicans

The higher dollar total for Trump’s campaign aligns with how Republican groups overall have attracted more money from S&P 500 CEOs than Democratic groups.

Some 179 of these CEOs donated a total of $35.61 million of their own money to Republican candidates and organizations, while 148 bosses combined to contribute $3.172 million to Democratic efforts, according to MarketWatch’s analysis of outlays between January 2019 and August 2020.

Most of the GOP’s big advantage comes from Las Vegas Sands’s Adelson, who has given $26.38 million to Republicans, including $25 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aiming to protect and expand on the GOP majority in the U.S. Senate. But even with Adelson excluded, Republicans come out ahead in drawing donations from the S&P CEOs, with $9.233 million in 2019 and 2020, tripling the Democratic haul.

Related: Democrats’ chances of Senate takeover rise, and that could affect health care, energy and financial services

And see:If the Democrats win the Senate, Big Tech better be ready for a bigger fight

Many of the S&P CEOs — 81 of them, to be exact — contributed to both Republican and Democratic groups. In other words, only 98 of the 179 GOP donors gave just to the GOP, and only 67 of the Democratic donors gave just to that party’s groups.

The greater giving to Republicans by the S&P CEOs in the current election cycle fits with their past behavior. Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, a MarketWatch analysis found 200 S&P chief execs had given a total of $7.4 million to the GOP, while 149 donated a total of $2.6 million to Democrats.

MarketWatch’s analysis here doesn’t cover political contributions by current or former executives of privately held companies, such as billionaire Michael Bloomberg, as it focuses instead on chief executives of the S&P 500’s large, publicly traded companies.

Now read:Biden topped Trump in cash on hand as September began

And see:Trump says he might spend his own money on his re-election campaign

This report was first published on Oct. 8, 2020.


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