Bruce Murphy
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Hendricks Abandoning Trump Campaign?

She's among many big 2016 donors who haven't given this year. But the Uihleins are all in.

By - Aug 17th, 2020 04:22 pm
Diane Hendricks co-founded ABC Supply Co. Inc. with her late husband, Ken Hendricks. Photo by Adaml212 at the English language Wikipedia / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Diane Hendricks co-founded ABC Supply Co. Inc. with her late husband, Ken Hendricks. Photo by Adaml212 at the English language Wikipedia / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Wisconsin billionaire Diane Hendricks, who served as an economic policy adviser to President Donald Trump and gave $8.1 million to a super PAC supporting Trump in 2016, “has given nothing so far” to Trump’s America First super PAC in this cycle, the New York Times reports.

“Thus far, only six of the top 38 donors to Trump-related super PACs in 2016 and 2018 have contributed to America First for the president’s re-election,” the Times found. Hendricks was among the missing donors who received prominent mention, along with her photo, in the story. She runs a building supply business in Beloit, was a big contributor to Republican Scott Walker and since 1995 has been the fattest cat donor the party has in Wisconsin.

Why are so many wealthy donors holding back so far in supporting Trump? His “sagging popularity, driven by his erratic and divisive behavior during the coronavirus crisis, has prompted some of the wealthiest Republicans — the heavy artillery of modern politics — to delay, divert or diminish their giving, just as Joseph R. Biden Jr. has begun to tap a rich vein of Wall Street and Silicon Valley support, party operatives and donors said in interviews.”

In 2016, donors giving at least $500,000, including Hendricks, “shelled out a total of $71 million to four major Trump-backing super PACs, which America First was created to replace during the 2020 cycle. In contrast, with less than three months to go until the 2020 election, America First has raised only about $35 million from donors offering $500,000 or more,” the story noted. “In recent weeks, prospective contributors to America First, and Mr. Trump’s joint-fund-raising committees with the Republican Party, have responded to solicitations by expressing concern that the president has not articulated a clear vision for the next four years, according to interviews with donors and people close to Mr. Trump and his fund-raising efforts.”

One bright spot for Trump has been the emergence of wealthy donors who gave little or no support to him in 2016, notably Richard and Liz Uihlein, owners of the Uline Co., a shipping supply company located in Pleasant Prairie, WI, and among “the top tier of right-wing financiers” of Republicans candidates nationally. The couple has donated “nearly $3 million to America First in the 2020 cycle, after giving roughly a tenth of that in 2016 and 2018 to Trump-related super PACs.”

Liz Uihlein conceded the problems with Trump’s controversial utterances. “Obviously, Trump, you wish sometimes he would just shut up — don’t go there, it’s not necessary,” she told the Times. She added that she faced blowback for supporting Trump, including from customers who threatened to take their business elsewhere. “But I’ve got a thick skin,” she said. “I just try to do the best for our company and our family.”

Another factor that might be hurting donations to the America First super PAC is that many Republican politicos have “long viewed the PAC as a dumping ground for exiled White House staff members and Mr. Trump’s family members, officials and donors said.” Perhaps to counter this view, its leadership “has offloaded high-paid surrogates on the payroll” including former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, the story noted. This made it sound like a recent firing, but Clarke was actually let go back in March 2019.

It’s possible that Hendricks and other fat cat donors who haven’t supported Trump could still decide to do so. But one worrisome sign is that wealthy donors are not delaying their donations to the Republican Party’s Senate fund-raising groups, which has attracted a “historic crop of big contributors,” the story noted.

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2 thoughts on “Back in the News: Hendricks Abandoning Trump Campaign?”

  1. Mingus says:

    Political influence has always been a vanity hobby of the rich. Richard and Liz Ulhlein have one politician in their political stable who won with their money, Congressman Tom Tiffany of Wausau. They invested millions in a Senate seat but Tammy Baldwin won anyway. I wonder who will be their next candidate and for what position?

  2. harwarmst says:

    So some donors are “expressing concern that the president has not articulated a clear vision for the next four years,” while Liz Uihlein says she wishes he would “just shut up — don’t go there, it’s not necessary.” There you have it. The Republicans’ desire for a clear vision is in clear conflict with what they want the voters to hear.

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