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Sullivan Senate campaign snares donations from big business, conservative groups

Nathaniel Herz

Dan Sullivan, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate, can claim financial backing from current and former chief executives at Bank of America, Home Depot, and the Wrigley chewing gum company.

Oh, and don’t forget the 43rd president of the United States.

A review of Sullivan’s most recent federal campaign finance filings shows broad support from the big business and financial interests with a stake in Republican control of the Senate, along with ample contributions from high-profile conservatives and conservative groups at the national level.

From those sources, Sullivan raised a significant chunk of the $1.2 million he collected between April and the end of June, putting himself far ahead of his two major GOP rivals, Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller, who raised $164,000 and $130,000, respectively, over the same period.

At the end of last month, Sullivan had $1.7 million in the bank, compared to $167,000 for Treadwell and $300,000 for Miller. The primary election between them is Aug. 19.

Alaska Dispatch News reviewed the unindexed 480-page electronic document the campaign filed with the Federal Election Commission -- which his campaign provided upon request -- and identified contributors who had given the $2,600 maximum allowed for either the primary or general election.

Those donors included:

• Brian Moynihan, the chief executive officer of Bank of America.
• Pete Coors, the board chairman of Molson Coors Brewing, and August A. Busch III, the former chief executive officer at beer giant Anheuser-Busch.
• 
Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and chief executive officer of the private equity firm Blackstone Group.
• 
Bernard Marcus and William Perez, the former chief executive officers of Home Depot and the Wrigley chewing gum company, respectively.
• 
Sam Zell, the investor who engineered a buyout of the media company that owned the Chicago Tribune.

A large chunk of Sullivan’s money came through joint fundraising committees, which can coordinate with other candidates or political groups to distribute large checks from donors.

Those committees include Friends for an American Majority, a conservative group with ties to New York billionaire Paul Singer, who supports immigration reform and gay rights. The group distributed $13,800 to Sullivan’s campaign in the second quarter, and has contributed more than $300,000 since Sullivan entered the Senate race.

Sullivan received $60,000 from Legacy Victory Committee, a group that appears to be associated with a Texas-based organization that’s against abortion, defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and supports the school choice movement.

And the political action arm of the Club for Growth, an anti-spending conservative group that’s endorsed Sullivan, directed $63,000 to his campaign in the second quarter.

Sullivan also collected maximum contributions from an array of finance industry workers, including current and former employees of the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs and the private equity company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

Sullivan’s former colleagues from the presidential administration of George W. Bush gave too, including Bush himself and wife Laura Bush. (The Bushes gave $1,250 apiece, less than the $2,600 maximum, but their contributions were reported by the Associated Press and pointed out by the Sullivan campaign.)

Alaskans who gave maximum contributions include a Kenai Peninsula real estate agent, a roustabout for a drilling company, and the owner of a Soldotna concrete company.

Two donors who support a cap-and-trade emissions policy to combat global warming gave the maximum to Sullivan in spite of his position on climate change. Sullivan has said that “there is no general consensus on pinpointing the sole cause of global temperature trends,” though he acknowledges that “with seven billion people on earth, humans will have an effect.”

One of the donors, conservative billionaire Julian Robertson, gave $40 million to the Environmental Defense Fund between 2005 and 2009 to support the group’s advocacy for emissions trading.

In an emailed statement, Sullivan campaign spokesman Mike Anderson didn’t directly address a question about the donation by Robertson, who also backed Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. But Anderson said that “just because someone contributes to Dan’s campaign does not mean that he shares their opinion on every issue -- Dan has his own beliefs.”

Treadwell has fewer maximum contributors, according to a filing provided by his campaign. They include Lynn Ann Eng, whose husband John Eng co-founded local construction firm Cornerstone General Contractors.

Others are a University of Alaska Fairbanks professor, a former Anchorage district attorney and close friend of Treadwell’s, and a prominent Missouri conservative who has also donated the maximum to Sullivan’s campaign.

A spokesman for Miller did not respond to a request to provide a copy of the campaign’s second quarter filings.

Sullivan's campaign says it raised $195,000 from Alaskan donors in the second quarter, or about 16 percent of its total. Treadwell's campaign has raised $97,000 from Alaskan donors, or about 60 percent.

The winner of the Republican primary will face incumbent Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, who raised $1.25 million in the second quarter and has $2.15 million in the bank.

Republicans are hoping to take control of the Senate in the November election; they have to net six seats from the Democrats to do so.