Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s campaign has raked in donations from billionaires and Hollywood celebrities despite the fundraising off her Trump-endorsed opponent’s ties to “special interests,” according to state records reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Michigan Democrat’s campaign has received over $1 million from billionaires and almost $48,000 from Hollywood celebrities since 2021, state campaign finance disclosures show. At the same time, the governor’s reelection campaign has criticized Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon for her ties to “special interests” and former Education Secretary and billionaire Betsy DeVos.
“Special interests are continuing to line up behind Tudor Dixon, including former Gov. John Engler and billionaire Betsy DeVos,” Whitmer’s campaign wrote in a July 8 email to voters. “Party insiders and special interests are going full steam ahead with Tudor Dixon, their newly handpicked candidate who has proposed a radical agenda that would take Michigan backwards.”
Billionaires who shelled out $250,000 for Whitmer’s campaign in 2021 include Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, oil company heiress Stacy H. Schusterman and siblings Patricia Stryker and Ronda Stryker — the grandchildren of inventor Homer Stryker. Some other billionaires who have donated to Whitmer’s campaign include former Enron executive John Arnold, who gave $7,150 in April 2022, and Open Society Foundations Founder George Soros, who gave $25,000 in 2021.
“Jaws” Director Stephen Spielberg donated $7,150 in March to Whitmer’s campaign, and “Princess Bride” Director Rob Reiner donated $2,500 that month. Actress Kate Capshaw, known for her role in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” donated $7,150 in March.
Tom Ford, the fashion designer and filmmaker, donated $7,500 to Whitmer’s campaign in February 2022. Tom Rothman, the CEO of entertainment conglomerate Sony Pictures, gave the governor’s campaign $5,000 back in 2021.
“I kind of think hypocrisy is a misdemeanor these days in politics,” Fred Wszolek, a Republican strategist in Michigan, told the DCNF. “This is the opening act of Whitmer for president. That’s what all this demagoguery is about. To build a fundraising list for president.”
Whitmer, who assumed office in 2019 and ran unopposed in 2022, has faced notable backlash from Republicans for her state’s strict COVID-19 restrictions, which she repeatedly failed to abide by. Dixon, who worked for Michigan steel companies and was a radio host, won the Republican primary in August after receiving former President Donald Trump’s endorsement.
“With over $15 million in attack ads out against us, we have to be ready to fight back against whatever Tudor Dixon and her special interest backers throw at us,” Whitmer’s campaign also wrote to voters in a Tuesday email. “That’s why we’re coming to you today.”
By “special interests,” Whitmer’s campaign is alluding to Dixon’s campaign contributions from DeVos and her family, Home Depot Co-Founder and billionaire Bernard Marcus, ULINE Corporation CEO and billionaire Richard Uihlein — as well as two pro-Dixon super PACs called Michigan Families United and Michigan Strong — according to a Republican operative familiar with the situation.
The DeVos family has donated $71,500 to Dixon’s campaign since May 2022. The DeVos family also gave $875,000 since June to Michigan Families United, which Uihlein gave $250,000 to in July. In May 2022, Marcus gave $100,000 to Michigan Strong, which along with Michigan Families United has spent $2.24 million supporting Dixon through ad buys, video production and media consulting, Bridge Michigan reported in July.
Whitmer has faced scrutiny from Republicans for her campaign taking individual contributions from wealthy left-wing donors allegedly above the $7,150 limit. Michigan Freedom Fund, a conservative nonprofit, filed a campaign finance complaint in September 2021 against ten of Whitmer’s campaign donors, including Pritzker, the Strykers and Schusterman.
Whitmer’s campaign sent $3.5 million to the Michigan Democratic Party in January after raising $2.5 million more than allowed under the legal limit, the Detroit News reported.
“Gretchen Whitmer literally took millions in illegal contributions over the campaign finance limits in Michigan and she is literally funded by anti-American, pro-communism Billionaires like George Soros,” Dixon told the DCNF. “Gretchen Whitmer a dishonest career politician who is always guilty of everything she accuses other people of.”
Michigan’s gubernatorial election will take place in November.
Whitmer’s campaign did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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