Donald Trump’s legal woes could be keeping energy executives who previously supported him are redirecting their donations to his 2024 primary rivals, campaign finance records show.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has received funding from coal executive Joe Kraft and his wife Kelly, who served as ambassador to the U.N. under Trump. He has also donated to Mike Pence, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Chris Christie.
DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley received funds from oil and gas magnate Harold Hamm. Pipeline tycoon Kelcy Warren and Midland Energy Inc. CEO Syed Javaid Anwar have donated to DeSantis. Billionaire Jeffrey Hildebrand is backing the marginal campaign of North Carolina Gov. Doug Burgum.
John Catsimatidis, a billionaire businessman and owner of United Refining Co., however, has given heavily to Trump. The former president seems to be attracting significant donations from smaller donors who give $200 or less.
Donald Trump Indictments, Rhetoric Make Him Radioactive
“The simple explanation is that Trump has issues,” Bill Miller, a longtime Texas lobbyist, told Politico. “It’s kind of like a car that’s not quite in good shape and it’s got to go on a road trip. There are gonna be problems,” Miller said. “As a consequence, donors are spreading their wealth.
Miller continued: “It’s every bit about the person, not the policy.”
Anwar expressed dissatisfaction with Trump’s Twitter presence to Politico.
“I just don’t like his tweeting,” Anwar said.
A lot of other former donors to Trump’s 2020 campaign have similarly shifted to other candidates in the primaries.
“A Wall Street Journal analysis revealed that nearly 5,000 individuals who donated to Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign have redirected their contributions to other Republican contenders for the upcoming election,” Terence West wrote in a column for EnergyPortal.eu.
Many larger donors worry that Trump’s independent style will continue to alienate Centrist voters and lose a second time to Biden.
A Tally of Donations
Politico notes that Hildebrand gave $3,300 to Burgum and that he and his wife Melinda were major donors to Trump’s 2020 campaign.
Warren held a high-profile fundraiser for Trump as his home in 2020 and has jumped ship.
Charles Koch, who together with his late brother, David, were reviled by Democrats for their bankrolling of the TEA Party during the Obama years has stated that he will spend heavily through his network of organizations to defeat Trump.
Koch owes his wealth to his family business Koch Industries which has heavily invested in the energy sector. His Americans for Prosperity Action has raised $70 million.
“There is a clear sense of urgency around choosing candidates who can win,” an official with the Americans for Prosperity advocacy group said. “Even a significant number of President Trump’s own supporters are concerned about his electability and open to an alternative.”
The Koch network does not have a preferred candidate yet.
Other more traditional Republican donors have looked to South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott as an alternative to the Populist candidates like Trump and DeSantis.
Scott’s support among Republicans stands at around 3%.
One of those donors, Ronald Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder fortune, flew to South Carolina recently to meet Scott. He supported Trump in 2020.
“The major donors are still open and are still looking,” one Republican with knowledge of the matter told Politico. “They originally were with DeSantis. They’re looking for other options and Tim Scott right now is probably their top target.”
Both Trump and Biden have donor problems going into 2024. It will be interesting to see how the donation game will pan out once the dust settles and it’s Trump versus Biden once more for the general election.
John Rossomando is a defense and counterterrorism analyst and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.