Long before presidential candidates ask voters to check a box, they ask donors big and small to write checks. Last week, Democrats seeking their party’s nomination released fundraising reports in filings with the Federal Election Commission, offering another glimpse into whether their respective candidacies are viable. Turns out California senator Kamala Harris is very popular, particularly with wealthy Californians who make large donations.
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders not only leads the pack in overall fundraising with $18.1 million, but $15.2 million of that comes from small-dollar donations—the most of any candidate. In contrast, Harris, who trails Sanders in second place with $12 million, has taken in over $7.6 million in donations of $200 or more.
Harris’s war chest has benefited enormously from the Golden State bump. Of that $7.6 million, over $5.5 million came from California donors. While Cory Booker is big Cali donors’ next favorite Dem, Harris still netted over five times as much as him.
The first-term senator’s popularity with more generous donors doesn’t suggest other donors dislike her. While she doesn’t come close to Bernie’s small-dollar bonanza, her campaign still raised $4.4 million in donations below $200, a total that holds its own next to Beto’s $5.5 million, Buttigieg’s $4.5 million, and Warren’s $4.2 million.
Still, any perceived coziness with the super wealthy could easily become a liability, especially in the primaries when candidates are focused on courting the liberal base.
We dove into the filings to find some of Kamala’s most notable donors from California.
Karla Jurvetson, $5,600
Elizabeth Banks, $5,600
Actor, director, and producer known for The Hunger Games, 30 Rock, and Pitch Perfect.
Cooper Hefner, $5,600
Son of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and chief of global partnerships for Playboy Enterprises.
Lloyd Braun, $5,400
A media executive and founder of Whalerock Industries. (Also, the inspiration behind a character by the same name in Seinfeld). He formerly served as Chairman of the ABC Entertainment Group and head of Media & Entertainment at Yahoo! before starting his own media company.
Skye Hoppus, $5,400
Businessperson and wife of Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus.
Ari Emanuel, $3,800
Co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor and brother of former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
Kevin F. Calcagnie, $2,800
A named partner at the Newport Beach-based law firm of Robinson Calcagnie who specializes in civil litigation and consumer safety. In 1999, he was one of the lawyers representing Los Angeles County in a suit against several tobacco companies that netted $3.3 billion.
J.J. Abrams, $2,800
Producer and director best known for Lost, Star Trek, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Ben Affleck $2,800
Actor, Academy Award-winning director, and former Batman.
Kevin Tsujihara, $2,800
Former chairman and CEO of Warner Bros Entertainment.
Evan Rachel Wood, $2,800
Actor known for her roles in Across The Universe, Thirteen, and HBO’s Westworld.
Shonda Rhimes, $2,800
Powerhouse producer, writer, and showrunner known for Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, $2,800
Longtime Democratic fundraiser, former chairman of Walt Disney Studios, and co-founder and former CEO of DreamWorks Animation.
John Ridley, $2,800
Academy Award-winning screenwriter, director, and showrunner known for 12 Years a Slave and ABC’s American Crime anthology series.
Mark Ridley-Thomas, $2,800
Member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
Quincy Jones, $2,800
Record industry heavyweight with 80 Grammy nominations and 28 wins.
Peter Getty, $2,722.16
Grandson of oil baron J. Paul Getty.
Ivy Getty, $2,700
Great-granddaughter of oil baron J. Paul Getty.
Gordon Peter Getty, $2,700
Son of oil baron J. Paul Getty.
Vanessa Getty, $2,700
Wife of William Paul Getty, the grandson of oil baron J. Paul Getty.
William Paul Getty, $2,700
Grandson of oil baron J. Paul Getty.
Shannon Getty, $2,700
Technology advisor and investor, and the wife of Peter Getty.
Jennifer Salke, $2,700
Former NBC Entertainment president and current head of Amazon Studios.
Heather Mnuchin, $2,700
Second ex-wife of Steven Mnuchin, former Goldman Sachs executive and Secretary of the Treasury under Donald Trump.
Chuck Lorre, $2,700
The “King of Sitcoms” during the 2010s, he created and produced sitcoms including Mom, The Big Bang Theory, and Two and a Half Men.
David Cooley, $2,700
Founder and CEO of The Abbey.
Reese Witherspoon, $2,250
Actor and producer known for Legally Blonde, Wild, and Big Little Lies.
Busy Phillips, $2,000
Actor known for Freaks and Geeks, Dawson’s Creek, and Cougar Town.
William Macy, $1,000
Shameless actor and husband of Felicity Huffman, who payed $15,000 to help her daughter cheat on college entrance exams. According to FEC filings, Macy made the donation on March 11, one day before prosecutors unsealed indictments against his wife.
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