Linda McMahon, co-founder of the professional wrestling franchise WWE and a former Republican Senate candidate from Connecticut, infused a super PAC supporting Donald Trump with $6 million in August and September, new campaign finance filings show.
The donations from McMahon made up nearly one-third of the nearly $18 million that Rebuilding America Now pulled in during the last quarter. She made five separate contributions, giving a final $1 million on Sept. 22.
McMahon's support for the super PAC marks the second occasion in which she has stepped up with major financial support for Trump. Between 2007 and 2009, she and her husband Vince gave $5 million to Trump's charitable foundation.
The latest donations make Linda McMahon one of the GOP presidential nominee's biggest outside benefactors — a somewhat surprising development, since she has been critical of his rhetoric in the past. During the GOP primary contest, she told Yahoo's Katie Couric that she was offended by Trump's disparaging comments of women, calling them “deplorable.”
“He’s not helping, certainly, to put women in the best light,” said McMahon, who now oversees Women's Leadership LIVE, a company that seeks to promote women in business. “Maybe he regrets them, maybe he doesn’t. I realize he punches hard when he punches back, but that’s just over the top.”
But last month, McMahon told the Associated Press that even though he was not her first choice for president, she is now a strong Trump backer, saying he had emerged as “a vessel that has housed this anger and this dissatisfaction” that exists throughout the country.
“Once you're his friend, he is loyal to the end,” she added. “He's an incredibly loyal, loyal friend.”
Even with McMahon's backing, Rebuilding America Now and other pro-Trump super PACs are still vastly outmatched by the dominant super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton.
Priorities USA Action, which is run by top Clinton aides, raised $132 million through the end of August, including $21.7 million that month. Meanwhile, nine pro-Trump groups pulled in $33.5 million during the past three months. (Two other super PACs supporting the GOP nominee do not report their totals until Thursday.)
The most generous Trump supporters so far are Las Vegas Sands chief executive Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who together gave the super PAC Future 45 $10 million last month. The Adelsons, who just began doling out major contributions, are now on track to leap to the top of the 2016 donor rankings. They have already given more than $52 million in disclosed contributions to GOP super PACs in the past two months, including $20 million a piece to the groups backing Republican House and Senate candidates.
Other pro-Trump mega-donors include Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus ($5 million), hedge fund executive Robert Mercer ($2 million), poultry magnate Ronald Cameron ($2 million) and TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts ($1 million.)