Contributors from Two Giant Out-of-State Investment Companies Make Biggest Donations to Liz Cheney’s Campaign
Blackstone of New York calls donations “strictly personal,” while Capital Group of Los Angeles is mum, but both firms have financial ties to Wyoming
- Published In: Politics
- Last Updated: May 02, 2022
Individuals from major investment companies Blackstone and Capital Group donate the most to Liz Cheney's re-election campaign. Other top contributors include Winning for Women, Berkshire Hathaway and Station Casinos. (Data courtesy of OpenSecrets)
By Shen Wu Tan
Special to the Wyoming Truth
Individuals from two giant investment companies based outside of Wyoming have contributed the most money to Rep. Liz Cheney’s re-election campaign, according to an analysis of federal records and other sources. Why people from global financial companies from the coasts are jumping into the financial fray of Wyoming politics remains opaque, though the two massive companies have economic ties to Wyoming. What is clear is that Cheney’s race has national implications.
Contributors from Blackstone, headquartered in New York City, donated $31,900 to Cheney’s campaign, while donors from Los Angeles-based Capital Group contributed $33,950, according to data from OpenSecrets, which shared this information with the Wyoming Truth.
Data from OpenSecrets, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that tracks data on campaign finance and lobbying, also reveals an additional $17,100 came from other individuals affiliated with Capital, in addition to $7,500 in Capital Group PAC funds.
In total, individual and PAC contributions to Cheney’s campaign from Blackstone and Capital amount to $90,450 through the first quarter of this year, records show.
Eight donors from Blackstone contributed to Cheney’s campaign, with amounts ranging from $2,900 to $5,800. Fourteen people associated with Capital contributed to Cheney’s campaign, with donations ranging from $1,000 to $5,800, according to data from the Federal Elections Commission.
Two other major financial firms, Berkshire Hathaway and KKR, also ranked as top contributors to Cheney’s campaign. Berkshire Hathaway, a multinational conglomerate holding company based in Omaha and headed by billionaire Warren Buffett, donated a total of $21,658 in individual contributions and PAC funds, data from OpenSecrets show. KKR, a global investment company headquartered in New York City and cofounded by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, donated $20,500 in individual contributions. Station Casinos, a hotel, gaming and entertainment company founded by Frank Fertitta, Jr. also made it into the top 10 contributors, with individual donations totaling $21,300, data shows.
Cheney has garnered a bulk of her financial support from outside of Wyoming, with residents from California, Texas, Florida, New York and Virginia contributing the most to her campaign as of the end of last year, FEC data shows. Residents from California donated the most to her campaign, with $604,000 in contributions, while Wyoming residents contributed only about a third as much, $202,360.
Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is facing numerous political rivals vying for Wyoming’s sole House seat even as she continues to wrestle with the shadow of former President Donald Trump nearly a year and a half after he left office. Cheney serves as vice chair of the select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and she was removed from top leadership in Congress for her criticism of Trump. The Wyoming GOP also voted in November to no longer recognize Cheney as a Republican.
Although many Republicans have given her the boot, Cheney has raised millions for her re-election campaign with the help of contributions from individuals connected to major corporations such as Blackstone.
Blackstone is a global investment firm that was founded in 1985 by billionaire CEO Stephen Schwarzman, a philanthropist with political ties past and present with such figures as Trump and former president George W. Bush. Schwarzman’s firm has about $915 billion in assets under management and investments in private equity, hedge funds, credit and real estate, according to public records. The company sold the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas for $5.65 billion in September.
Blackstone’s portfolio companies include Servpro, a fire and water cleanup company with numerous locations in Wyoming. The financial firm made an equity investment of about $3 billion in energy company Invenergy, according to a January Blackstone press release. Invenergy has a couple of wind power projects in the state, the company’s website shows. Blackstone also secured oil pipeline company Tallgrass Energy for its portfolio in 2020 in a $6.3 billion deal, according to the “Private Equity’s Dirty Dozen” report by the database LittleSis and the nonprofit Private Equity Stakeholder Project. Tallgrass Energy co-owns and operates the Rockies Express Pipeline, one of the largest pipelines in the United States that runs through Wyoming.
“Our employees’ political donations are strictly personal,” Matthew Anderson, a spokesperson for Blackstone, told the Wyoming Truth. He added the company has never had a corporate PAC or made corporate donations to political candidates.
Capital also invests in companies with ties to Wyoming, records show, including: General Motors; Chevron; energy technology company Baker Hughes; and Linde, an industrial gas and engineering company. Capital was founded in Los Angeles in 1931 by Jonathan Bell Lovelace and manages about $2.6 trillion in assets.
Capital did not respond to multiple requests for comments regarding the contributions.
Individual campaign contributors from Blackstone and Capital also did not respond to requests for comments.
“In general, we find that for-profit corporations, through their political action committee, where at the state level sometimes they can make direct corporate contributions to candidates, will make contributions to incumbents across the board,” said Pete Quist, deputy research director of OpenSecrets. “They just want to give to somebody who is in office, making decisions, and who is likely to win re-election.”
Quist added sitting members of Congress or another political office win re-election at least 90% of the time. “So those contributions are pretty safe,” he said. Also, if organizations are trying to lobby, he said they are more likely to be able to set up meetings with elected officials to which they’ve donated.
Cheney has raised $10,121,33 for her re-election campaign through the end of March, according to FEC data released mid-April. Her fundraising prowess puts her in seventh place among all candidates nationwide running for a U.S. House of Representatives seat. In the first quarter of this year alone, Cheney raised more than $2.5 million for her campaign.
Trump-backed candidate Harriet Hageman ranks second in campaign contributions among candidates running for the Wyoming House seat. She has raised $2,067,149 as of the end of March, of which she added about $1.3 million during the first quarter of this year, according to the FEC.
Hageman has received the most in donations from Wyoming residents compared to other states, with $363,430 in contributions as of the end of last year, followed by Texas and Florida.
Hageman has received more than 21,000 donations since announcing her candidacy in September, with an average contribution of $84, says a statement on her campaign website.
“It is an honor to have such support and I pledge to always reflect the views and values of the people of Wyoming when I am in Congress,” Hageman said in the statement. “This is Wyoming’s seat in the House, not one individual’s.”
Cheney’s campaign did not reply to numerous requests for comments.
“A big reason as to why Cheney has raised so much is that, of the House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last year, she’s easily been the most visible,” said J. Miles Coleman, associate editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan political newsletter of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “With that, it’s easy to see many anti-Trump donors coalescing behind her. In fact, a decent amount of her funding seems to be coming from Democrats: 10 years ago, it would’ve been hard to see Cheney being a favorite of Democratic donors, but sometimes politics can make for odd bedfellows. Though her donors may not agree with Cheney on every issue, her reelection would certainly be billed as a black eye for Trump — and in his best state, no less.”
“As for Hageman, her candidacy presents a very real threat to Cheney’s career,” Coleman added. “She has raised $2 million so far in the cycle. Even though that has been eclipsed by Cheney’s $10 million, that is still a very serious sum for a Congressional challenger — especially one in a small state like Wyoming. There have been senatorial candidates this cycle who have raised less than that.”
Jim King, a political science professor at the University of Wyoming, said, “This year’s race, which the media are touting as a test of strength between two factions within the Republican Party, has brought national attention and contributors from across the country…Although she doesn’t have as many contributors from California, Texas, and Florida as Rep. Cheney, Ms. Hageman does have a number of contributions from these states, which are the three largest in the U.S.”
Although far more people are more familiar with Cheney than Hageman, Quist of OpenSecrets said, “That might change as we get further along in the election cycle, and the political machinery starts to raise the profile of the campaign, and it becomes a competitive race.”