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Fabulously Rich Americans May Make Trump Rule And Destroy U.S.

Phil Garber
13 min readMar 30, 2024


A sugar baron who gets hundreds of millions of dollars in federal farm subsidies, reformed never-trumpers who once railed against involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, rebellion and a billionaire casino mogul who paid out millions on sexual harassment claims are among the hugely rich Republicans who may cause the downfall of the U.S.

By and large, these uber wealthy people have one big reason that they are backing trump: they fear another four years of President Joe Biden will lead to higher taxes on the rich. They are clearly not concerned that trump is facing 88 felony charges and that the ex-president promises to free Jan. 6 defendants, deport millions of immigrants, prosecute his political enemies and perhaps, mortally wound democracy.

Trump has kicked his fund-raising campaign into overdrive to boost his sagging campaign war chest and to raise more money to fight his multiple indictments. The latest big benefit for trump, the “Inaugural Leadership Dinner,” will be hosted by billionaire hedge fund founder John Paulson on April 6 in Palm Beach, Fla. Co-chairs include another hedge fund billionaire, Robert Mercer, and his daughter, Rebekah; oil tycoon Harold Hamm; hotelier and space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow; and casino mogul Steve Wynn.

Other uber rich co-chairs include Todd Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs and helped lead Republican National Committee fundraising efforts during trump’s White House tenure; and longtime Trump allies, such as New York Jets co-owner Robert Wood Johnson, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom under trump; and trump commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross. Tickets for the host committee cost $250,000. Chairman tickets cost a cool $814,600. The members of the host committee will sit at trump’s table.

“Special guests” include three former GOP candidates for president who now endorse trump, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

Here are some of the prominent, very deep pocketed trump supporters.

Jose “Pepe” Fanjul

Fanjul, 79, is a Cuban-born businessman and the second eldest of the Fanjul brothers, who control a sugar and real estate business, including the Domino Sugar company and Florida Crystals, valued at $8.2 billion. The Fanjuls own about 400,000 acres of sugar cane plantations, half in Florida and half in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic is one of the top exporters of sugar to the U.S., and 63 percent of the country’s sugar export quota to the U.S. is allocated to the Fanjul family.

The Fanjuls often donate to Republicans in efforts to ensure continuation of the governmental price support of sugar for the company family. The Center for Responsive Politics reported that between 1990 and 2016, the sugar industry spent more than $40 million on contributions to politicians.

In 2016, the New York Times reported that Domino Sugar and other sugar companies paid Harvard scientists in the 1960s to produce research that downplayed the connection between sugar and heart disease, and instead laid the blame on saturated fat. The Times reported that five decades of scientific research into the interconnection between nutrition and heart disease “may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry.”

Through the years, the sugar industry has invested heavily in lobbying and political contributions to get legislators to deter regulatory oversight. In 2003, when the World Health Organization recommended that people reduce the amount of sugar they consume, American sugar companies threatened to appeal to Congress to cut the WHO’s funding.

The United States offers subsidies as part of the U.S. Sugar Program, to keep prices greater than in other parts of the world. The Fanjuls receive around $65 million in subsidies for their sugar empire annually.

In 2010, Fanjul refused to fire his executive assistant, the long-time white nationalist Chloe Hardin Black, who was married first to David Duke, the former national leader of the Ku Klux Klan and then to Don Black, another former KKK leader and member of the American Nazi Party. The Nazi Party’s website, Stormfront, is believed to be at least partly supported by the salary that Florida Crystals paid Chloe Black.

Fanjul has contributed millions of dollars to Republican politicians. Last July, he co-hosted a major fundraiser for trump in the Hamptons.

Robert Bigelow

After the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, billionaire developer Bigelow said trump had “lost me as a supporter. … He showed that, in that particular hour, he was no commander.” This past January, Bigelow said he had donated $1 million for trump’s legal fees and “I made a promise to give him $20 million more, that will be to the super PAC….”

Bigelow, 79, owns Budget Suites of America and is the founder of Bigelow Aerospace. He has provided financial support for investigations of UFOs and parapsychological topics, including the continuation of consciousness after death. Bigelow had said he planned to spend up to $500 million to develop the first commercial space station. Bigelow Aerospace has launched two experimental space modules, planned for full-scale space habitats to be used as orbital hotels, research labs and factories.

In July 2022, Bigelow donated $10 million to Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, which was the single biggest donation of his gubernatorial re-election bid. Bigelow has contributed more than $25 million to groups and causes supporting Joe Lombardo’s candidacy for governor of Nevada. Campaign finance experts believe it may be the most a single donor has spent on a statewide race in modern history.

Nelson Peltz

The day after trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the billionaire Peltz called the moment a “disgrace.” At the time, Peltz said he regretted having voted for trump and that “I’m sorry I did that.”

During the 2024 GOP presidential primaries, Peltz was an early supporter of Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. Peltz now is back to backing trump.

A breakfast with trump earlier in the month at his Mar-a-Lago castle showed that Peltz has had a change of heart in favor of trump. Also at the rather exclusive dinner were other equally super rich billionaires, hotelier Steve Wynn, Tesla and X CEO Elon Musk and former Marvel chairman Isaac Perlmutter.

Peltz, 81, Peter W. May and Edward P. Garden founded Trian Partners, an alternative investment management fund based in New York. Peltz is the non-executive chairman of Wendy’s Company, Sysco, and The Madison Square Garden Company. He is a former director of H.J. Heinz Company, Mondelēz International and Ingersoll Rand and a former CEO of Triangle Industries.

In 2017, Forbes reported that Peltz was the 432nd richest American, with a net worth estimated at $1.7 billion.

In 2005, Peltz was among 53 entities that contributed the maximum of $250,000 to the second inauguration of President George W. Bush. He is also a contributor to Jewish causes and has been on the Board of Trustees of New York-Presbyterian Hospital since 2019.

Warren Stephens

Stephens, 66, is chairman, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Stephens Inc., a privately held investment bank, based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Forbes estimated Stephens’ personal fortune at $2.4 billion.

During the 2016 election, Stephens and his brother Jackson Stephens were major financial supporters of the Stop Trump movement. In 2016, Stephens and his brother gave $3.5 million to two groups opposing trump along with $500,000 in 2015.

Only one other family, the Ricketts of Omaha, Neb., gave more than Stephens to the stop-trump campaign. The Ricketts donated $5 million while other trump opponents included Paul Singer, the New York hedge-fund manager, who gave $1 million; and William Oberndorf, a San Francisco investor, who gave $500,000.

In recent years, Stephens has mostly contributed to a super-PAC run by Club for Growth, a conservative group that in 2016 was a major opponent of trump. He is now a major trump supporter.

Stephen Wynn

Wynn, 81, was well-known in the luxury casino and hotel industry, before he was forced to resign on Feb. 6, 2018, because of sexual misconduct allegations, including harassment, assault and coercion. Wynn stepped down as CEO of Wynn Resorts but he denied all allegations.

Dozens of people reported the alleged misconduct including a manicurist who won a $7.5 million settlement from Wynn. In February 2018, Nevada regulators fined Wynn’s company $20 million for failing to respond to sexual misconduct claims. In April 2019, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission fined Wynn Resorts $35 million after finding that former company executives covered up sexual misconduct allegations against Wynn.

Wynn received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006, but it was rescinded in 2018 after the sexual misconduct allegations were made.

Early in his career, Wynn oversaw the construction and operation of casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City hotels, including the Golden Nugget, the Golden Nugget Atlantic City, The Mirage, Treasure Island, the Bellagio, and Beau Rivage in Mississippi.

In 2000, Wynn sold his company, Mirage Resorts, to MGM Grand Inc., resulting in the formation of MGM Mirage (now MGM Resorts International). Wynn later took his company Wynn Resorts public and was Wynn Resorts’ CEO and Chairman of the Board until he resigned on Feb. 6, 2018. The same sexual misconduct allegations forced Wynn to retire in 2018, after a year as finance chair of the Republican National Committee.

As of September 2015, Wynn’s net worth was estimated by Forbes at $2.4 billion, making him the 279th wealthiest American.

Between 2012 and 2018, Wynn contributed more than $2.5 million to the Republican Governors Association; $411,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee; $248,000 to the Republican National Committee; and $100,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee. In 2016, Wynn donated $833,000 to Republican Party joint fundraising committees. He was the vice-chairman of Trump’s 2016 inauguration committee and in Jan. 2018, he was named finance chair of the GOP National Committee. Wynn and his wife, Andrea, contributed $1.5 million to trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Wynn had financial interests in China and in Oct. 2017, it was reported that he had lobbied trump on behalf of the Chinese government to return a Chinese dissident, Guo Wengui, to China. In May 2021, the Department of Justice ordered Wynn to register as a foreign agent of China and filed a civil lawsuit. The case was dismissed in October 2022 after the court ruled that Wynn could not be retroactively compelled to register after his alleged relationship with the Chinese government had ended.

John Paulson

Paulson, 68, leads Paulson & Co., a New York–based investment management firm he founded in 1994. He has been called “one of the most prominent names in high finance” and “a man who made one of the biggest fortunes in Wall Street history.”

In 2007, Paulson earned almost $4 billion by using credit default swaps to bet against the U.S. subprime mortgage lending market. In 2010, Paulson earned $4.9 billion and he set another hedge fund record by making nearly $5 billion by primarily investing in the gold sector.

Paulson worked with Goldman Sachs to provide liquidity for low-performing home loans in Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada. Paulson and Goldman created the Abacus 2007-AC1 investment vehicle to keep investors from the knowledge that Paulson had bet against the underlying assets. Paulson escaped indictment because his firm maintained that it was always transparent about its view of the mortgages that had been securitized and that the assets were not without risk.

Goldman was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission and on July 15, 2010, the investment giant settled out of court, agreeing to pay the SEC and investors $550 million, including $300 million to the U.S. government and $250 million to investors, one of the largest penalties ever paid by a Wall Street firm.

Paulson backed trump after the candidate secured the GOP nomination. Paulson and his wife, Jenny, contributed $831,370 to trump’s 2020 presidential campaign. Paulson was one of trump’s top economic advisers in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The Paulsons have a 28,500-square-foot Upper East Side townhouse on East 86th St., bought for $14.7 million. They also own a home in Aspen, Colo., which they purchased for $24.5 million; and an estate in Southampton, Long Island, that he bought for $41 million.

Todd M. Ricketts

Ricketts, 54, another one-time trump opponent, is a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, a member of the TD Ameritrade board of directors, and a former Republican National Committee Finance Chairman. Ricketts is the son of Marleneand Joe Rickets, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade.

Forbes estimated the Ricketts’ family wealth at $1 billion, 371 on the Forbes 400 list.

Ricketts’s brother is Pete Ricketts, a former governor and current senator for Nebraska.

Ricketts supported former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s bid for the 2016 Republican Party presidential nomination. After Walker bowed out of the race in 2015, the Ricketts family donated $5.5 million to Our Principles PAC, a super PAC opposing trump’s candidacy. After trump’s nomination, Ricketts reversed his stance to back trump. During the end of the general election, Ricketts helped to raise more than $66 million for the pro-trump super PACs 45 Committee and Future 45.

In January 2018, Ricketts was named the finance chair for the Republican National Committee.

Hal Lambert

Lambert founded Point Bridge Capital an investment company, in 2013. The company is known for its “MAGA EFT,” an exchange-traded fund that invests heavily in Republican companies and takes its name from trump’s MAGA .

The fund is administered by Point Bridge and distributed by Foreside Fund Services. It formed on Sept. 6, 2017 in opposition to the Target Corp. 2016 policy of allowing transgendered customers to use the bathroom of choice.

Lambert was previously a director at Credit Suisse and manager at JP Morgan. Lambert is a Republican donor and finance chair, and served on the Trump inaugural committee.

Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter

Perlmutter, 81, is an Israeli-American billionaire businessman and financier. He has been an influential investor in a number of corporations, including Revco drug stores, Coleco Entertainment, Remington, and Toy Biz/Marvel Toys. He is the former chairman and CEO of Marvel Entertainment.

During trump’s time in office, Perlmutter was an unofficial advisor and oversaw the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In 2015, Perlmutter’s wife, Laura, donated $2 million to a Super-PAC supporting the presidential candidacy of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. In 2016, Laura Perlmutter donated $449,400 to a trump PAC and later was part of trump’s Inauguration committee.

In 2019, the Perlmutters donated around $360,000 to the “Trump Victory Joint Fundraising Committee.” They contributed a total of $1.9 million to trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Steven Witkoff

Witkoff, 66, is a real estate investor and landlord based in New York City, and is founder of the Witkoff Group. As of 2013, Witkoff owned about 30 properties in the U.S. and London. In November 2013, the Witkoff Group announced their purchase of the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel (New York). In August 2017, Witkoff purchased the unfinished Fontainebleau Resort Las Vegas in Las Vegas.

Witkoff, a longtime friend and supporter of trump, testified as an expert in trump’s recent trial on charges of fraud over values of trump’s properties.

Robert Leroy Mercer

Mercer, 76, was an early artificial intelligence researcher and developer and is the former co-CEO of the hedge fund company Renaissance Technologies. He was a key player in the United Kingdom campaign to leave the European Union.

Mercer has been a major funder of right-wing organizations including Breitbart News, the now-defunct Cambridge Analytica and trump’s 2016 campaign for president. He is the principal benefactor of trump’s Make America Number 1 super PAC.

In 2021, Mercer was involved in possibly the largest tax settlement in U.S. history, as he, James Simons, and other executives at the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies were ordered to pay as much as $7 billion to the IRS in back taxes.

Mercer was one of the largest donors in the 2016 U.S. elections, giving $22.5 million to Republican candidates and PACs.

Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, helped to obtain senior roles in the trump campaign for the far right political strategist and Breitbart owner, Steve Bannon and for Kellyanne Conway, who would be named a senior advisor to trump. The Mercers first introduced Bannon to trump.

Mercer plays competitive poker and owns an HO scale model railroad. In 2009, Mercer sued RailDreams Custom Model Railroad Design, alleging that RailDreams overcharged him by $2 million. He has commissioned a series of yachts, including one with a pirate-themed playroom for Mercer’s grandchildren and a chandelier of Venetian glass.

In Florida, Mercer built a large stable and horse riding center. He has acquired one of the country’s largest collections of machine guns and historical firearms, including a weapon Arnold Schwarzenegger wielded in “The Terminator.”

Rebekah Mercer and her father contributed $25 million during the 2016 presidential election.

In June 2016, Rebecca Mercer created the “Defeat Crooked Hillary” PAC, and ran the organization’s daily operations. She has been called “the most powerful woman in GOP politics” and the “First Lady of the Alt-Right.”

Mercer and her father were key financial benefactors for Breitbart News, Cambridge Analytica and the social media website, Parler and the American Museum of Natural History. Mr. Mercer was removed from the museum board because of his rejection of the scientific consensus regarding climate change.

Howard Lutnick

Lutnick, 62, is a billionaire businessman who succeeded Bernard Gerald Cantor as the head of Cantor Fitzgerald after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center. As of September 2018, Lutnick owns 60 percent of Cantor Fitzgerald, with a net worth of “at least $1.5 billion.”

In May 2019, Lutnick hosted a fundraiser at his home in Manhattan for trump, raising around $5 million.

Harold Glenn Hamm

Hamm, 78, is in the oil and gas business, known for extracting shale oil resources. As of 2022, Hamm’s net worth was estimated to be $49.3 billion, making him the 63rd wealthiest person in the world.

In 1967, Hamm founded Shelly Dean Oil Company, which would later become Continental Resources. The company pioneered the development of the Bakken oil field in North Dakota and Montana using horizontally drilled wells and hydraulic fracturing.

At the 2016 Republican National Convention, Hamm criticized the Obama administration’s energy policies, claiming that President Barack Obama was “burdening oil companies with greater regulations” so that gasoline prices would spike. Hamm also denounced the Iran nuclear deal struck by the Department of State in 2015, claiming that the deal would make Iran more able to export petroleum and develop an atomic bomb.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, trump considered naming Hamm as energy secretary.

Hamm contributed $320,000 to trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Hamm’s wife, Sue Ann Arnall, filed for divorce on May 19, 2012, but Hamm said that he separated from her in 2005. Several media outlets reported that up to half of Hamm’s estimated $20 billion fortune could be transferred to his wife, which would become a world record for most money transferred in a divorce. A judge ruled that his ex-wife would receive $1 billion, but she rejected the settlement, seeking a greater sum. She settled for $1.2 billion.

Among other rich Americans, Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, who rejected Trump in the 2024 GOP primaries, is considering backing the former president. Oracle’s billionaire owner Larry Ellison, who backed Sen. Tim Scott R-S.C., and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley in the GOP primaries, is considering a large donation to trump. Richard Uihlein and Elizabeth Uihlein, conservative billionaires and heirs to the Schlitz brewing fortune, told the Financial Times that they will donate to Trump as well.