Linda McMahon Turns Mega-Donor After Spending $100M on Senate Defeats

Image: Linda McMahon Turns Mega-Donor After Spending $100M on Senate Defeats

Friday, 23 May 2014 08:02 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Billionaire former wrestling magnate Linda McMahon has come out fighting after being down and out for the count following two failed Senate bids for the GOP.

McMahon, co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment with her husband Vince McMahon, spent $100 million on the campaigns. She’s now splashing cash to help Republican candidates win seats in the midterm elections, according to Politico.

McMahon is not in the same league as conservative mega-donors Charles and David Koch or Democratic environmentalist Tom Steyer. But she’s making her mark in the male-dominated world of big money politics by becoming a rare female player amongst the super-rich contributors.

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According to public records reviewed by Politico, this year she’s already forked out $1 million on federal candidates, party committees and super PACs, including Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, the research and tracking group America Rising and TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts’ group Ending Spending.

The figure shows a marked increase from the $30,000 that she and her husband gave during the 2006 and 2008 campaigns, according to Politico, which said she’s donated to the House-centered Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC rather than the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

McMahon declined to be interviewed by Politico.

McMahon first began opening up her pocketbook when she ran unsuccessfully for a Senate seat in Connecticut in 2010, but lost to Democrat Richard Blumenthal. In 2012, she spent more cash to run for the state’s other seat, losing to Democrat Chris Murphy.

Her total expenditures as a two-time loser was close to $100 million, according to Politico. But the pain from the personal and financial blows has not stopped McMahon from getting out of the political ring any time soon.

The defeats have only encouraged her to help fund other GOP women get elected in the fall while taking on Democrats who have a majority in her own backyard.

McMahon is reportedly a huge fan of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and has handed $250,000 to the Republican Governors Association, chaired by Christie, to help in the competitive Connecticut gubernatorial race this fall, Politico said. The contribution came after Christie became mired in the Bridge-gate scandal.

"Some people are once bitten, twice shy, but Linda McMahon is a tough customer," Chris LaCivita, a GOP strategist who worked on her 2012 campaign, told Politico.

"This is somebody who is very concerned about the direction of the country. The uptick in her political contributions is representative of the fact that she realizes the challenges that Republican candidates face."

Her financial resources have resulted in McMahon being embraced by the billionaire boys’ donor club led by New York hedge fund CEO Paul Singer, whose fundraising committee, Friends for an American Majority, has donated vast sums to four GOP Senate candidates.

McMahon, who resigned as WWE CEO in 2009, even attended a February fundraiser in February organized by Singer, where she mingled with the likes of House Speaker John Boehner, Politico added.

McMahon is now said to be the third highest of the female "mega-donors" after Miriam Adelson, wife of Las Vegas casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, and New Jersey-based contributor Virginia James, who donated a total of $1.5 million during the 2012 election.

Back in the land of the wealthy one-percenters in Greenwich, Conn., McMahon has become a powerful force, according to her Chris Shays, the former state representative who lost to her in the GOP 2012 primary.

"I basically view the Republican Party in Connecticut as her party. It’s a party that doesn’t have any structure, but it’s a party that has a very strong personality in Linda McMahon," Shays told Politico.

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