Billionaire first to reach $100m in election donations – to Trump and RFK Jr

<span>Donald Trump, seen in Las Vegas on 9 June, hauled in $141m in May.</span><span>Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images</span>
Donald Trump, seen in Las Vegas on 9 June, hauled in $141m in May.Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Billionaire banking heir Tim Mellon gave $50m to Donald Trump’s election campaign after the former US president’s hush-money trial in New York, a sum that significantly boosted Trump’s post-conviction cash haul.

Mellon, a reclusive scion of the banking dynasty founded in America’s gilded age, gave the sum to Trump’s political action committee Make America Great Again. According to federal filings, Mellon, 81, has now given $75m to Trump, and $25m to a Pac fund supporting the independent candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr, this year.

Mellon’s gift to both candidates makes him the first donor to give $100m in disclosed federal contributions in this year’s election. His contribution is among the largest ever single disclosed contributions in American politics and highlights how the country’s billionaire class is rallying behind Trump.

Trump had been behind Joe Biden in fundraising, and his Pac campaign fund has spent upwards of $100m on legal fees relating to the criminal indictments he is facing, but Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings revealed on Thursday that after his conviction in New York his fundraising has soared.

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Trump’s cash haul in May was so large, at $141m, that he erased Biden’s financial advantage in what is anticipated to be a tight election in November. Trump’s campaign had $116.6m in the bank at the end of May, compared with $91.6 for Biden, according to FEC filings.

The cash advantage comes ahead of a crucial campaign event in Atlanta, Georgia, next week at which the two candidates will face off in a 90-minute debate – the first that the men have joined since 2020.

Mellon, who moved from Connecticut to Wyoming in 2005, has given generously to Republican causes over the years, including $50m to Texas governor Greg Abbott’s border wall fund, according to the Texas Tribune.

According to OpenSecrets, in 2020 and 2022, Mellon, the grandson of treasury secretary Andrew Mellon, was the sixth and fifth most prolific US donor, spending $60m and $47m respectively to support Republican candidates and causes.

In a self-published autobiography, Mellon once described US social safety net programs as “slavery redux”. Referring to recipients of social security, Mellon wrote that “for delivering their votes in the federal elections, they are awarded with yet more and more freebies: food stamps, cell phones, WIC payments, Obamacare, and on, and on, and on.

“The largess is funded by the hardworking folks, fewer and fewer in number, who are too honest or too proud to allow themselves to sink into this morass,” he added.

Mellon’s gift far outstrips other Republican mega-donors in terms of his contributions. Others included in the FEC filing include shipping magnates Richard and Liz Uihlein ($10m) and Texas oil titan Kelcy Warren ($5m).

On the flip side, the largest individual donor to Biden is former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, who gave nearly $20m to the Democrat’s re-election bid, according to the Washington Post.

The effect of the contributions is likely to be seen almost immediately. Both campaigns have embarked on major campaign ad spending, with the Trump Super Pac saying it will reserve $100m in advertising buys for September.

Outside groups have committed more than $1bn to support Biden, supported by $250m in advertising buys by the Biden Super Pac Future Forward.