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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 27, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 04
Billionaires finance TV ads for Jeff Sessions nomination
Section One
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Billionaires finance TV ads for Jeff Sessions nomination

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Have you seen the TV ads promoting Jeff Sessions - of all people - as a civil rights hero, and asking you to phone your senators to demand he be confirmed as attorney general?

Curious about who paid for them?

The ads themselves only tell you that they were paid for by a group called '45Committee.' Forty-five, of course, refers to Donald Trump, now the 45th president, but who makes up the committee?

The group is actually the advocacy arm of a super PAC called 'Future45' formed in March 2015 to target presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Its earliest donors were hedge-fund billionaires Kenneth Griffin and Paul Singer, GOP megadonors who contributed $250,000 apiece. Investor William Powers also gave $100,000, and Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment and two-time Republican candidate for US Senate, contributed $200,000 to the group.

Future45 spent more than $3.3 million on advertising through February 2016, and then went dormant. It relaunched in September with a new infusion of money from TD Ameritrade founder J. Joe Ricketts and billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

After its rebirth, the PAC aired its signature TV ad, 'The Crook,' comparing Clinton to Richard Nixon.

As a super PAC, Future45 can raise an unlimited amount of money, but it must disclose its donors and cannot coordinate with campaigns. Its 501(c)(4) group, the 45Committee, can also receive unlimited amounts of money, but it does not have to disclose its donors.

According to a Politico report, Chicago Cubs owner Todd Ricketts (J. Joe's son) has assumed control of both groups, telling wealthy donors they can support Donald Trump and his cabinet picks anonymously.

Since it was formed, Future45 has raised almost $13.7 million, with $12.3 million of that being donated in September 2016, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Adelson, who along with his wife Miriam gave the group $10 million that month, has reportedly donated as much as $25 million since then. J. Joe Ricketts has donated at least $1 million to the committee.

Future45 spent almost $9.4 million on ads targeting Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). The 45Committee has spent at least $7.3 million on ads opposing Clinton or supporting Trump, according to CRP data.

No data have yet been reported on spending to support the Jeff Sessions nomination.

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