By Francisco Alvarado
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
The Super PAC responsible for raising $103 million so far for Jeb Bush’s presidential aspirations has some heavy-hitting 1 percenters putting down large sums of cash.
And Florida’s former governor is going to need every penny after losing his front-runner status to billionaire developer Donald Trump. A recent poll shows the Celebrity Apprentice star leading the vast pack of Republican presidential contenders, which also includes U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
According to the first campaign finance report submitted by Right to Rise, Texas oil men, New York investment bankers, Miami healthcare company owners, and three former ambassadors — two of whom served under Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush — gave 25 contributions of $1 million each. Mike Fernandez, the Cuban-American billionaire founder of Coral Gables-based MBF Healthcare Partners, gave $3 million, the largest contribution to Right to Rise.
Other members of the PAC’s seven-figure club include:
- Hushang Ansary, Iran’s ambassador to the United States from 1967 to 1969. He serves as a trustee of the George W. Bush Library. Ansary and his wife Shahla became U.S. citizens in the 1980s.
- Richard Kinder, chairman and chief executive of oil and gas pipeline company Kinder Morgan. His net worth is $10 billion. Kinder’s wife Nancy also contributed $1 million to Right to Rise.
- Alfred Hoffman, U.S. ambassador to Portugal from 2005 to 2007. He founded Florida-based real estate company WCI Communities.
- Nextera Energy, the publicly traded parent company of Florida Power & Light, which provides electrical service to nearly half of the state. Last year, Nextera reported more than $15 billion in revenue.
- Julian Robertson Jr., New York hedge fund manager whose net worth is $3.4 billion. He made his fortune investing in golf resorts and vineyards in New Zealand.
According to the PAC’s report, which covers fundraising and expenses from January 1 to June 30, Right to Rise has spent $5.4 million, mostly on advertising and consultants.
Meanwhile, recent polls show Bush has lost ground to Trump, whose doubling down on controversial comments about immigration seems to be appealing to conservative voters. Florida’s former governor is even falling behind Trump in the Sunshine State. A St. Pete Polls survey of 1,902 registered Republicans taken from July 18 to July 28 gave Trump a six-point lead over Bush. Rubio, the other contender from Florida, finished fourth behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.