Money & Politics

This Week in Political Money: Tea Party Donors Have a Colorado Favorite; Apple’s Tim Cook Lends Paul Ryan a Hand

Our weekly roundup of money we're following.

This Week in Political Money

We’ll be posting this roundup each week leading up to Election Day. Share your thoughts about these must-read stories and always feel free to suggest your own in the comments section.

“Some donors don’t want to associate with something overtly pro-Trump.”

David Bossie, president of Citizens United and head of “Defeat Crooked Hillary,” a new super PAC funded by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer.



Figures for presidential and congressional races from the Center for Responsive Politics; figures for state races from the National Institute of Money in State Politics.

Donald Trump made headlines this week when his campaign filed a report with the FEC showing it had a paltry $1.29 million on hand, as of the end of May. While this is scarily impecunious compared with the Clinton campaign, which has never allowed its assets to dip below $28 million, it is, in fact, nothing new for Trump. Throughout the nominating fight, the billionaire’s apparatus has spent money as rapidly as it came in the door (mostly in the form of checks from Trump’s No. 1 supporter — himself). The campaign’s biggest surplus was at the end of December, when it had nearly $7 million on hand. But one month later, those reserves had been reduced to $1.58 million.


$750 million

That’s the Koch network’s new estimate for how much it will spend in the general election. Though the brothers and their associates initially predicted spending $889 million, their decision to stay out of the presidential race — they’re not fans of Trump — led to the revised estimate. At The Washington Post, Matea Gold reports that some of that money has been going toward a massive effort to reach out to voters in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.


Darryl Glenn, the leading candidate in Colorado's Republican primary for US Senate. (YouTube)

Darryl Glenn, the leading candidate in Colorado’s Republican primary for US Senate. (YouTube)

The leading Republican candidate among six vying to challenge Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennet in the fall is El Paso County Supervisor Darryl Glenn. Ahead of Tuesday’s primary, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been campaigning with Glenn, a retired Air Force colonel, calling him “a principled fighter.” In addition to kudos from the erstwhile presidential candidate, Glenn has also been receiving substantial support for media buys and direct mail campaigns from Senate Conservatives Fund, a tea party-aligned PAC founded by former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint in 2008 to back like-minded candidates (DeMint now heads the conservative Heritage Foundation). According to an analysis of filings with the Federal Election Commission by the Sunlight Foundation’s Real-Time Influence Explorer, Senate Conservatives Fund has spent more than $500,000 championing Glenn.


As Congress has battled over gun control in the wake of the Orlando shooting, the NRA has been readying for the general election. The group has spent $1.9 million so far this year to help vulnerable Senate Republicans hold onto their seats, and a new FEC filing shows it had pulled together a $14.7 million war chest as of the beginning of May. Will Democrats crusading on gun control — some of whom started a sit-in on the House floor today — be able to rally their funders to fight back? History would suggest not — but this time could be different.


Paul Ryan’s been having a hard time of it lately. With Trump running amok, it’s become unclear whether the Republican electorate supports — or even cares much about — Ryan’s high-minded crusade to slash the social safety net. Ryan has said he’ll back Trump, but has absolutely no desire to comment on the surprises that emerge from the candidate’s mouth on a near-daily basis.

And so it’s very kind of Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, to hold a breakfast fundraiser for the speaker in Menlo Park, California. Cook often donates to Democrats, and, like a number of other of the GOP’s usual corporate underwriters, Apple pulled funding from the GOP convention this year to avoid having its name on anything associated with Trump. But following the company’s battle with the FBI over whether or not to unlock San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone, Cook might be looking for allies in Congress to help him grease the wheels of the system ahead of future battles.

John Light


John Light is a reporter and producer for the Moyers team. His work has appeared at The Atlantic, Grist, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, Vox and Al Jazeera, and has been broadcast on Public Radio International. He's a graduate of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. You can follow him on Twitter at @LightTweeting.