Money Flowed to McCarthy as Speaker-in-Waiting

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy received a windfall of six-figure checks from CEOs, Wall Street investors and other high-dollar GOP donors during the short window he was the front-runner to be the next House speaker. 

The California Republican's lucrative joint fundraising committee, known as the McCarthy Victory Fund, collected $3 million in the fundraising quarter that began July 1 and ended on Sept. 30.

Much of the third-quarter money came in the form of checks in the $100,000 and $200,000 range that flowed in during the short window between Ohio Republican John A. Boehner’s Sept. 25 announcement he would step down as speaker and McCarthy’s surprise Oct. 8 news he would not run to replace Boehner, as expected. McCarthy’s windfall was first reported in Political MoneyLine.

Overall, McCarthy's third-quarter haul was three times the $1 million the committee had raised from April 1 through June 30.

Top contributors to the McCarthy Victory Fund in late September included California investor John Fisher, a billionaire whose family founded The Gap clothing company, who donated $200,400 on Sept. 30; Laura Khouri, president of California’s Western National Property Management, who gave $200,400 on Sept. 29; and Thomas V. McKernan, former CEO and president of the Automobile Club of Southern California, who contributed $200,400 on Sept. 30.

Other generous McCarthy Victory Fund donors during that window are Wyoming mortgage lender Glenn B. Stearns, who gave $75,000 on Sept. 30; Charles T. Munger Jr., who gave $150,000 on the same day and who identifies himself on Federal Election Commission reports as a self-employed physicist; and Charles Schwab, chairman of the board of Charles Schwab & Co., who gave $133,600 on Sept. 29.

The high-dollar donations late last month helped the McCarthy Victory Fund boost its total receipts so far in the 2016 election cycle to $5.8 million by the end of the third quarter. The joint fundraising account divvies up its receipts among the National Republican Congressional Committee; McCarthy’s campaign account; and his personal leadership PAC, which is known as the Majority Committee PAC.

McCarthy’s congressional campaign committee also ended the third quarter on a high note, with $1.3 million in receipts during the window between July 1 and Sept. 30. That brought his total receipts to just less than $4 million since the beginning of the year.

One big donor to McCarthy’s campaign during his short but lucrative tenure as speaker-in-waiting was NextEra Energy Inc. PAC, which according to Political MoneyLine made an $8,500 contribution to McCarthy on Sept. 29.

McCarthy's shocking decision to drop his bid for the speakership has thrown the House GOP leadership into chaos, and all eyes are now on Ways and Means Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, who is being urged to run. McCarthy has said he will stay on as majority leader, but some of his six-figure donors may have been banking on his anticipated ascendancy to the speakership.

Likewise, some of the top donors to Boehner’s joint fundraising committee, known as Boehner for Speaker, could be excused for wondering whether they, too, made a bad bet. On Sept. 22, just a few days before Boehner’s announcement he would leave his speakership and Congress, his Boehner for Speaker account received a $100,000 contribution from Koch Industries executive and conservative mega-donor David Koch.

Kate Ackley contributed to this report. 

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