Mitch McConnell's big donors are Wall Street firms — and only 9% of his funds comes from Kentucky

Vast majority of McConnell's campaign funds come from big-dollar, out-of-state donors, many in the financial sector

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published July 17, 2019 3:30PM (EDT)

Mitch McConnell (AP/Salon)
Mitch McConnell (AP/Salon)

Wall Street contributions helped Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raise $3 million last quarter. But just 9 percent of his donations came from individual donors in his home state of Kentucky.

The biggest blocks of contributions to McConnell’s campaign between April and June came from 29 donors at New York’s Blackstone Group, who donated a combined $95,400, and from 14 executives from the financial firm KKR & Co., who contributed a combined $51,000, the Louisville Courier Journal reports. Executives from firms like Apollo Global Management and Golden Tree Asset Management contributed another combined $65,100. 

It’s no wonder that McConnell is so well-liked among the New York elites his party so often castigates. McConnell helped lead the charge to slash taxes on corporations, saving big banks billions. He also led the effort to roll back parts of the Dodd-Frank law, which was enacted after the 2008 financial crisis. 

McConnell also received $88,000 from Georgia-based UPS, nearly $66,000 from Indiana-based pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, and $50,000 from Florida-based private prison contractor GEO Group, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Most of the money McConnell’s campaign raised last quarter came from out-of-state donors. Just 9 percent of his contributions came from individual donors in Kentucky, according to the analysis. McConnell raised less than $182,000 from Kentuckians while receiving $281,000 from donors in New York and $216,000 from donors in Texas.

Nearly 90 percent of McConnell’s contributions came from “big dollar” donors. Just $340,000 of his donations last quarter came from donors who gave less than $200. Meanwhile McConnell received maximum $5,600 contributions from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, Coors Brewing executive Peter Coors and NRA official Jennifer Baker, none of whom live or work in Kentucky.

Along with his own donations, McConnell raised more than $600,000 from four committees that split funds among Republican senators seeking re-election. Less than $20,000 came from donors in Kentucky.

"This is not a good sign for McConnell in 2020," the Democratic Party said in a statement, touting the $2.5 million haul Democrat Amy McGrath raised within 24 hours of her announcement that she would challenge McConnell next year.

It’s unclear how much McGrath has raised in total. Her first financial disclosure is not due until October. In her unsuccessful bid for a U.S. House seat last year, McGrath raised about $8.5 million, though roughly 75 percent of her big-dollar contributions came from out of state.

McConnell’s campaign manager Kevin Golden said in a statement that McGrath’s fundraising was also driven by out-of-state supporters like actresses Alyssa Milano and Bette Midler. 

“Any liberal name in the phone book will raise millions from Hollywood radicals who can't stand that Mitch McConnell is the only leader in Washington who isn't from New York or California,” he told the Courier Journal.

McConnell raised more than $30 million in his 2014 re-election race against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who raised nearly $19 million but lost the race by 15 points. Much of McConnell’s money in that race came from dark-money groups made possible by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling. 

After that ruling, McConnell blocked legislation that would have required dark-money groups to disclose the identity of their donors. 

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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