Right to Rise, the super PAC supporting GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush, raised about $811,000 from lobbyists and lobby firms, mostly from Washington and Florida, during the first half of 2015.
About a fifth of the total, $165,800, came from Florida lobby firm Southern Strategy Group. Thirteen individuals who work at that firm chipped in amounts between $500 and $10,000, and the firm gave a corporate donation of about $110,000. The firm has many ties to Bush: founder Paul Bradshaw has worked closely with Bush in Florida campaigns — including writing his inaugural gubernatorial speech in 2003, according to the St. Petersburg Times — and is married to Sally Bradshaw, a longtime Bush adviser who is working on the 2016 campaign. Another lobbyist, Chris Dudley, was deputy chief of staff to Bush during his tenure as Florida governor. One of the firm’s other founders, David Rancourt, was Bush’s deputy chief of staff during his first administration.
In total, Right to Rise brought in $523,325 from lobby firms and $282,850 from 107 lobbyists, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures filed Friday. Lobby firms include law, consulting and public affairs firms that lobby; lobbyists include those that the super PAC listed as working in government affairs, government relations, public policy or a consultant, executive or founder of a firm that lobbies the state or federal government.
Those figures amount to a small sliver of the $103 million that the super PAC has raised so far — $3 million of which came from Florida healthcare billionaire Miguel “Mike” Fernandez, the super PAC’s biggest backer. Bush during his campaign has spoken critically about the lobbying industry, saying he would limit K Street’s influence and push for stricter disclosure rules if he becomes president, even as his campaign receives financial support from many lobbyists.
Most lobbyists gave relatively modest sums of a few thousand dollars or less. There were a few exceptions. Tom Korologos, the former U.S. ambassador to Belgium who now works as an adviser at DLA Piper, gave $25,000. Joel Kaplan, vice president of global public policy for Facebook, gave $15,000.
Five other lobbyists or executives of lobby firms contributed $7,500 or more: David Boyer of BGR Government Affairs and Dudley of Southern Strategy Group, who each gave $10,000; and Ed Ingle of Microsoft and Timothy McBride of Covidien, who each gave $7,500. Sig Rogich, founder of the public relations, advisory and government affairs firm Rogich Communications Group, gave $10,000.
Lobbyists at a wide swath of Fortune 500 companies chipped in as well, albeit in smaller amounts, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Verizon, AT&T, American Airlines, Comcast, Pfizer and Molina Healthcare.
Financial support from lobbyists paled in comparison to the millions of dollars contributed by the financial services and oil and gas industries. Many of the two dozen contributors who gave $1 million or more hailed from those two sectors.
For example, executives at hedge fund Moore Capital Management, private equity firm Freeman Spogli, investment management firm Oberndorf Enterprises and hedge fund Tiger Management each gave $1 million or more. And executives at oil company Hunt Consolidated Inc., oil and gas equipment manufacturer Stewart & Stevenson and Chief Oil & Gas each contributed $1 million.
Lobbyist bundlers — those who raise more than $17,600 from friends, family and colleagues — have raised $288,400 for Bush so far.
Bush stands out as the candidate whose aligned super PAC has raised the most money from lobbyists, according to a review of candidates’ super PACs that raised $10 million or more. However, Hillary Clinton has raised more money from lobbyists overall — 40 lobbyists bundled just over $2 million for her official campaign committee during the second quarter of the year.
Next in line in super PAC lobbyist support was two super PACs aligned with Chris Christie, America Leads and Leadership Matters for America, which raised a combined $219,000 from 42 lobbyists and nine lobby firms and their affiliated PACs. Scott Walker’s sanctioned super PAC, Unintimidated PAC, raised $102,000 from three lobbyists and firms — $100,000 of which came from Elizabeth Dunn of the consulting and communications firm FTI Consulting, which has a lobbying division.
Super PACs backing Clinton, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry and John Kasich raised no more than a few thousand dollars each from lobbyists and lobby firms.