Thursday, June 21, 2018
Politics

Who's making it rain for Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy?

TALLAHASSEE — Some of the biggest players on Wall Street are investing heavily in U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's re-election.

And they don't think Democrat Patrick Murphy is so bad, either.

Rubio and Murphy count major global finance and investment companies Goldman Sachs and the Blackstone Group among their top donors, campaign finance reports for both campaigns show.

But make no mistake. Rubio, 45, is the consensus candidate for those firms that have been the loudest critics of the financial regulatory reforms enacted by President Barack Obama since the 2008 recession.

Overall, Rubio has raised more than $13.5 million in his main campaign account, according to campaign finance reports filed last month. Murphy has raised about $14 million.

Rubio's chief support comes from the Elliott Management Corp., a hedge fund company known as a corporate "vulture" for taking on distressed companies and trying to make them more profitable. Since Rubio re-entered the U.S. Senate race on June 22, 16 top executives with Elliott Management Corp. have combined to give Rubio $135,000, Federal Election Commission records show. That includes the company's founder and CEO Paul Singer, who donated $5,400 to Rubio in late June.

Singer, 72, has been vocal in criticizing financial regulations put in place by Obama and Congress that require more regulations on companies like his. A spokesman for Elliott Management did not respond to requests for comment.

During the presidential primary campaign, Rubio was unapologetic in calling for the dismantling of Dodd-Frank, the law that created new oversight of the financial industry. During that campaign, Singer donated more than $5 million to a super PAC called Conservative Solutions that supported Rubio.

"We need to repeal Dodd-Frank," Rubio said during an August 2015 presidential debate. "It is eviscerating small businesses and small banks."

Rubio's campaign said the donations don't mean groups can influence Rubio's positions.

"When people choose to support Marco's campaigns, they buy into his agenda, not the other way around," Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said.

Murphy, 33, is among a minority of Democrats in the U.S. House who have supported some Republican-proposed changes to the Dodd-Frank Act, enacted in 2010, drawing ire from some Democrats. Still, a co-author of the reforms, former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., endorsed Murphy.

"Unlike Marco Rubio, Patrick strongly supports Wall Street reform and knows we need tough rules of the road to prevent a future financial crisis," said Murphy spokewoman Galia Slayen.

Goldman Sachs and Blackstone Group employees have combined to give Murphy more than $54,000 for his campaign account. The are the fifth- and seventh-biggest donors to Murphy's individual campaign account.

The Blackstone Group is a private investment and equity firm. Its employees combined to give $45,450 to Rubio since the beginning of July. That includes donations from chairman and CEO Steve Schwarzman, who gave Rubio $5,400. That firm's employees have given Murphy $26,100, though all of that was given before Rubio declared he had changed his mind and would seek re-election.

Employees with Goldman Sachs, the global finance company rescued by the federal government after 2008's financial collapse, have given Rubio's re-election campaign $29,300 since June, according to FEC records. Murphy has collected $29,950.

A super PAC backing Murphy called Floridians for a Strong Middle Class counts Bruce R. Berkowitz among its biggest donors. Berkowitz runs Fairholme Capital Management out of Coral Gables and is considered one of the top financial investors in the nation by national and international financial publications. Berkowitz gave Murphy's PAC $100,000 in September and his family gave another $26,200 to Murphy's main campaign account.

Wall Street firms aren't the only ones fueling the campaigns. Rubio's top donors include sugar industry giant Florida Crystals and private prison operator the GEO Group. Top donors to Murphy's campaign include trial lawyer firm Morgan & Morgan, his father's Coastal Construction Group, and JStreet PAC, a liberal Jewish advocacy group that backs more diplomatic efforts to resolve Israeli-Arab conflicts.

Those donations don't include millions more going into super PACs supporting Murphy and Rubio. For instance, Melaluca Inc., an Idaho-based company that manufactures skin and nutritional products, and its CEO, Frank VanderSloot, donated $500,000 to Rubio's Florida First Project super PAC.

 
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