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Spoiler Alert: Billionaire Trump Mega-Donor Gave Another $5M to RFK Jr.

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

Billionaire mega-donor Timothy Mellon, who has poured millions into a super PAC supporting Donald Trump, gave another $5 million to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in April, according to newly released campaign finance filings.

The gift is sure to stoke speculation that Mellon believes Kennedy’s presence as an independent in the race could siphon votes away from President Joe Biden and help tilt the election toward the GOP.

Mellon sent the cash to American Values 2024, a super PAC supporting Kennedy. He previously gave $20 million to the PAC, along with $15 million to the Trump-affiliated Make America Great Again Inc. Mellon also gave another $10 million to MAGA Inc. in April.

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Recent polls have shown Kennedy pulling support from both major party candidates. His famous last name and the fact that his strongest performances in polls have been fueled by young voters and Latinos, traditionally Democratic-leaning groups, suggest his candidacy might hurt Biden. However, Kennedy has also embraced right-wing positions and gotten positive coverage in conservative media, potentially drawing Republican voters. A handful of recent polls have shown Biden’s and Trump’s support falling about the same amount when Kennedy is included on the ballot, though some suggest his candidacy could swing the race in one direction or the other.

Mellon, 81, is the scion of a banking and industrial family worth more than $14 billion, according to Forbes. He lives in Wyoming but has funded causes across the country, including a massive proposed border wall in Texas in 2021.

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The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that Mellon has disbursed over $150 million in political donations in recent years. He is a reclusive figure whose motivations aren’t clear. The Journal noted that Mellon is also “a pilot with an amateur interest in finding the legendary lost wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s plane.”

“Donald Trump’s largest donor emptying his wallet to help RFK Jr.’s candidacy tells us everything we need to know,” Matt Corridoni, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, told The Daily Beast on Monday. “MAGA Republicans are hellbent on propping up RFK Jr. to be a spoiler for Trump in this race. This is even more proof that a vote for RFK Jr. is a vote for Trump.”

The Kennedy campaign disputed the characterization. “The campaign does not communicate with American Values and does not keep track of its donors. However, Mr. Kennedy is pleased that donors from diverse positions on the political spectrum are supporting his candidacy,” it said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “The success of the Kennedy campaign shows Americans are ready for a third choice. This is the election where lesser-of-two-evils voting ends.”

The new filings also show that American Values received a significant sum—$1 million in April—from the founder of LimeWire, Mark Gorton. Gorton was one of the original co-founders of the super PAC, and has been a staunch supporter of Kennedy, also bankrolling his anti-vaccine nonprofit, Children’s Health Defense. Gorton seeded American Values with $500,000 back in 2022, when it was known as the People’s Pharma Movement.

But his continued largesse was not a guarantee. He told CNBC last spring that he had no plans to donate to American Values this cycle, saying, “You’re in the realm of presidential races where billions of dollars are spent and I don’t think I can make any difference at that scale.”

The filings appear to mark a change of heart; the $1 million donation is the first Gorton has made to the PAC this cycle. Records indicate that last year he gave slightly more than the federally allowable $6,600 directly to the campaign.

The Shocking Story Behind One Megadonor’s Support of RFK Jr.

Kennedy also received support from another tycoon in April: Trevor Milton, the former billionaire electric-truck entrepreneur who was convicted of fraud in 2022, gave $3,300 to the campaign, bringing his overall total to $6,600. Milton, who resigned from his firm, Nikola, amid the fraud allegations in 2020, listed his occupation as “not employed.”

American Values disbursed a significant chunk of change as well, refunding $2 million to private security contractor and author Gavin de Becker, whose firm the super PAC also pays for security services. Earlier this year, the PAC raised eyebrows for refunding de Becker $9.65 million of the $10 million he had donated.

“We don’t see stuff like this. We see stuff, go back to the donor from time to time, if there’s leftover but not like, you know, this, this apparent arrangement beforehand,” Robert Maguire, from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told Politico at the time.

Days after the Politico story was published in February, de Becker gave American Values another $4 million.

Editor’s note: This story been updated to reflect Mellon’s $10 million donation to MAGA Inc. in April.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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