The 2024 presidential election cycle is predicted to be the most expensive in U.S. history.
Former President Donald Trump holds a comfortable lead in total contribution receipts with $56.7 million, according to data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in the first week of November.
President Joe Biden, seeking a second term in the White House, placed second, with $44.7 million.
President Trump’s Republican rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis placed third, with $31.6 million.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who switched from the Democratic ticket to run as an independent, placed fourth, with $15.1 million.
With a 56 percent disapproval rating in the most recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, a victory in 2024 will be challenging for the current president. Here are some of his major donors.
Laurene Powell Jobs
Laurene Powell Jobs is the widow of tech entrepreneur Steve Jobs. On July 7, 2022, Ms. Powell Jobs accepted a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Biden on behalf of her husband.
She is also a trustee of the Ford Foundation and the founder and president of Emerson Collective—a philanthropic organization helping people “from all communities” to “achieve their full potential.” The organization is the majority owner of The Atlantic magazine. Ms. Powell Jobs is also board chair of College Track, a nonprofit she founded in 1997 that helps students from underserved communities achieve their education goals.
Ms. Powell Jobs is the co-founder and board chair of the XQ Institute, a nonprofit “dedicated to rethinking the high school experience so that every student graduates ready to succeed in life.”
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, her net worth sits at about $10.3 billion.
FEC records show that Ms. Powell Jobs made a $929,000 contribution to the Biden Victory Fund and two contributions of $3,300 to the Biden for President PAC on Sept. 20.
Casey Wasserman is the founder, CEO, and chairman of Wasserman Media Group, a sports marketing and talent management firm. He is also chairman of LA28, the organizing committee for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and president and CEO of the Wasserman Foundation, which supports education, service, health, arts, and culture, as well as global initiatives.
As reported by Inside the Games, Mr. Wasserman wrote a letter to the International Olympic Committee in 2020 calling for the organization to ease the restrictions of Rule 50, which says, “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
FEC records show that Mr. Wasserman contributed $929,600 to the Biden Victory Fund as well as two donations of $3,300 to the Biden for President PAC on Sept. 27.
Jeffrey Katzenberg is a Hollywood film and television producer who served as chief executive of the well-known animation studio DreamWorks, which he co-founded with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. Prior to founding DreamWorks, Mr. Katzenberg was chairman of Walt Disney Studios, where he oversaw the release of several highly profitable animated features, such as “The Little Mermaid”, “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “The Lion King.”
His net worth is estimated to be about $900 million.
Mr. Katzenberg also serves as a co-chair of President Biden’s reelection campaign, in which he helps with fundraising and provides advice on messaging.
FEC data show that Mr. Katzenberg has been a prolific contributor to Democratic candidates and PACs for decades.
On April 28, he contributed $889,600 to the Biden Victory Fund and two donations of $3,300 to Biden for President.
On April 27, Mr. Katzenberg’s wife, Marilyn Katzenberg, also contributed $889,600 to the Biden Victory Fund.
In May, Mr. Katzenberg told theFinancial Times that he would pledge “all the resources” President Biden needs to win reelection in 2024.
Polling data collected by RealClearPolitics shows that President Trump is leading President Biden in all but two of the head-to-head matchup surveys released by various polling outlets on Nov. 17.
Several billionaires have donated to Make America Great Again Inc., a leading Trump-aligned super PAC, during the first half of 2023.
According to his profile on Casino.org, Phil Ruffin—an 88-year-old casino and hotel mogul—is one of the most successful, self-made businessmen in Las Vegas. He’s the owner of Circus Circus and the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino. He’s also a50 percent stakeholder in the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, along with the former president.
Forbes estimates that Mr. Ruffin’s net worth is about $2.7 billion.
FEC data show that Mr. Ruffin made two $1 million contributions—one on April 26 and the other on June 15—to the Make America Great Again PAC. He also made an $11,600 contribution to the Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee on May 1 and a $3,300 contribution to Donald J. Trump for President 2024.
Mr. Ruffin isn’t solely dedicated to Republican candidates. In the past, he donated to support John Kerry’s and former President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.
Charles Kushner is the father of Jared Kushner, who’s married to President Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
After his family immigrated to the United States in the aftermath of the Soviet occupation of Poland, Mr. Kushner completed high school and went on to study law at the Hofstra University School of Law. After practicing law for several years, he used his father’s business assets to found Kushner Companies in 1985, which he built into a successful real estate development empire.
In March 2005,The New York Times reported that Mr. Kushner pleaded guilty to tax evasion, witness tampering, and making illegal campaign donations. He was sentenced to two years in federal prison.
On Dec. 23, 2020, President Trump issued a pardon for Mr. Kushner.
FEC records show that Mr. Kushner contributed $1 million to Make America Great Again Inc. on June 5.
The FEC’s data also indicate that between 1987 and 2020, Mr. Kushner’s political contributions were given strictly to Democratic candidates and PACs, including a $1,000 contribution on April 24, 1987, to President Biden’s first presidential endeavor.
In 2016, Forbes estimated the Kushner family’s net worth to be about $1.8 billion.
Robert ‘Woody’ Johnson
Robert “Woody” Johnson is the co-owner of the New York Jets. His wealth is a product of his great-grandfather Robert Wood Johnson, who founded Johnson & Johnson in 1886. From 2017 to 2021, he served as President Trump’s ambassador to the United Kingdom.
According to Forbes, Mr. Johnson’s net worth is about $3.1 billion.
FEC records show that Mr. Johnson contributed $1 million to Make America Great Again Inc. on April 26.
Additional contributions to the PAC in 2022 totaled more than $133,000.
In 2020, Reuters reported that Mr. Johnson, who had no previous experience in diplomacy, was investigated by the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Attorney General regarding “offensive or derogatory comments, based on an individual’s race, color, sex, or religion,” which he was alleged to have made during his tenure as ambassador to the United Kingdom.
On May 12, 2020, during his tenure as an ambassador, Mr. Johnson also made a $1 million contribution to America First Action, a super PAC dedicated to bringing President Trump’s America First policies to fruition.
While running for president, Mr. DeSantis is also currently serving as the governor of Florida.
According to an Oct. 4 statement, Mr. DeSantis “shattered expectations by bringing in $15 million during the third quarter fundraising period between his campaign committee, leadership PAC, and joint fundraising committee.”
FEC data show that his premier super PAC, Never Back Down, finished out June with $96.8 million cash on hand.
Robert Bigelow is the founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace LLC, based in Las Vegas. He’s also the owner of the hotel chain Budget Suites of America. In 2011, Forbes estimated his net worth to be $700 million.
Mr. Bigelow has a keen interest in the paranormal and unorthodox sciences. Through his founding of the National Institute for Discovery Science in 1995, he has funded the study of various sciences such as teleportation, bio-weaponization, and cybernetics, as well as paranormal disciplines such as ufology.
FEC data show that Mr. Bigelow donated $20 million to Never Back Down.
In August, Mr. Bigelow told Reuters that he would stop donating to Mr. DeSantis until the latter attracted more new donors and assumed a more moderate approach, especially after he signed into law a ban on abortion after six weeks in Florida. Mr. Bigelow has since indicated that he will switch his support to President Trump but has yet to make any financial contributions to the former president.
Douglas Leone is a global tech leader and partner at venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. Forbes estimates his net worth to be about $6.9 billion.
FEC data show that he contributed $2 million to Never Back Down on April 19. He also made two contributions of $2,800 to Donald J. Trump for President Inc. and a $50,000 contribution to Trump Victory on Aug. 12, 2019.
Four months earlier, President Trump had announced that Mr. Leone had been appointed to serve on his White House Task Force on Financial Services as part of his Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups.
Mr. Leone renounced his support of President Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, protest and Capitol breach.
Edward Debartolo Jr.
Edward Debartolo Jr. is the founder and CEO of Debartolo Holdings, a property development and investment firm based in Tampa, Florida.
He’s best known for his 23-year ownership of the San Francisco 49ers, during which time the team won 13 division titles and five Super Bowl Championships. Forbes estimates his net worth to be about $3 billion.
FEC records show that Mr. Debartolo made a $250,000 contribution to Never Back Down on June 28 and two $6,600 contributions to Ron DeSantis for President on June 30.
In 1998, Mr. Debartolo pleaded guilty to failing to report a $400,000 felony quid pro quo bribe that he paid to former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards in exchange for a riverboat gambling license.
On Feb. 18, 2020, President Trump granted full pardons to several individuals, including Mr. Debartolo.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is best known for being the son of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy. He’s also an attorney and a co-founder and former president of an environmental protection organization called Waterkeeper Alliance.
On Oct. 10—within six hours of Mr. Kennedy’s decision to run as an independent—the Kennedy-aligned super PAC American Values 2024 announced that more than $11 million in contributions had “flooded” into its coffers “equally from Democrats, Republicans, and independents.”
Timothy Mellon is a member of one of America’s wealthiest family dynasties. As a descendant of entrepreneur and U.S. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, he’s an heir to the Mellon family’s banking and steel fortune. He also started Guilford Transportation Industries, which morphed into Pan Am Systems, a transportation holding company based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
In 2021, Forbes estimated his net worth to be about $11.5 billion.
In 2020, Mr. Mellon was an avid supporter of President Trump and his determination to build a border wall.
FEC records show that Mr. Mellon gave $1.5 million to Make America Great Again Inc. in 2022.
AsThe Texas Tribune reported in October 2021, Mr. Mellon donated $53.1 million in stock to Texas Gov. Greg Abbot’s $54 million border wall fund.
FEC records show that Mr. Mellon contributed $5 million to American Values 2024 on April 13 and $3,300 to Team Kennedy on Sept. 5.
Gavin de Becker
Gavin de Becker is a best-selling author and owner of Gavin de Becker and Associates, a company that specializes in security for governments, large corporations, and public figures.
In 2019, Mr. de Becker was hired by Jeff Bezos to investigate how the National Enquirer obtained private text messages that exposed Mr. Bezos’s extramarital affair with his now-fiancée Lauren Sánchez.
FEC data show that Mr. de Becker has donated $4.5 million to American Values 2024 and another $3,300 to Team Kennedy.
Abby Rockefeller is an American feminist, an ecologist, and a fourth-generation member of the famous Rockefeller dynasty. She’s the eldest daughter of David Rockefeller and Margaret “Peggy” McGrath.
She’s also the owner of Old Mud Creek Farm, a large-scale farm that conducts carbon research to prove the restorative benefits of organic agriculture as a means to mitigate climate change, and part of the largest stretch of organic farmland in New York’s Hudson Valley. Ms. Rockefeller was also a member of Cell 16, a radical feminist organization from the 1970s. She founded Clivus Multrum Inc., the U.S. incorporation of a Swedish company that manufactures composting toilets.
In 2020, Forbes estimated the Rockefeller family’s net worth to be about $8.4 billion.
FEC records show that Ms. Rockefeller contributed $100,000 to American Values 2024 on May 24.