Unlike presidential and congressional campaigns, founding committees are not allowed to accept corporate donations, which gives companies the rare opportunity to write grand checks to politicians.
Biden banned his founding committee from taking money from lobbyists and overseas agents and fossil fuel companies, but accepted corporate contributions of up to $ 1 million and checks of up to $ 500,000 from individuals. (Obama did not take corporate money for his inauguration in 2009, but gave in in 2013.)
Others hitting the $ 1 million cap were the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; the Sherwood Foundation, a Nebraska not for profit led by Warren Buffett’s daughter Susie Buffett; Levantine Entertainment LLC; and Masimo Corporation, a medical device company whose founder Joe Kiani was a top donor for a Super PAC that Biden supported during Democratic Elementary School.
Other corporate donors who have given at least $ 100,000 to Biden’s founding committee include Amazon and Google, both of which are fending off claims to be more strictly regulated if left untreated. United Airlines, which was badly hit by the pandemic and benefited from federal support, donated more than $ 200,000.
Ford, Doordash, Airbnb, Charter Communications, Anheuser-Busch, Walmart, Verizon, Yelp, health insurer Anthem, Microsoft, PepsiCo, the legal and lobbying firm Holland & Knight, Dow Chemical, General Motors, FedEx, the biopharmaceutical company Amgen and Die Quicken Loans’ parent company gave at least $ 100,000 each.
The National Football League, at the forefront of the Culture Wars and targeted by Conservatives in recent years, also gave $ 100,000.
Top executives at a number of companies have written their own checks, including Microsoft President Brad Smith, who contributed $ 100,000, and David Zapolsky of Amazon, who donated $ 25,000.
Unions, anxious to pass laws that would facilitate union efforts, also brought in big bucks, including the United Association and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. The American Federation of Teachers, which has urged caution in efforts to reopen schools amid the pandemic, gave $ 250,000.
More than a dozen individual donors gave the maximum of $ 500,000, including Ken Griffin, the hedge fund billionaire and Republican mega-donor; Constance Williams, the Hess heir and former Senator for the State of Pennsylvania; the private equity manager Jean-Pierre Conte; Peloton CEO John Foley; and Democratic megadonors Haim Saban and Donald Sussman. Venture capital investor Chris Sacca and his wife Crystal Sacca each gave $ 500,000.
Overall, Biden surpassed President Barack Obama’s fundraiser for his two inaugurations, although many of the traditional celebrations were canceled this year due to the pandemic. Obama raised approximately $ 53 million for his first inauguration in 2009 and $ 43 million for his second in 2013.
However, Biden brought in far less than President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee in 2017 – a record $ 107 million. Attorney General Karl Racine later sued Trump’s inaugural committee, claiming it violated its nonprofit status by paying too much to book a ballroom at the Trump International Hotel.
Alex Thompson contributed to the coverage.