Billionaire John Paulson to hold megadonor fundraiser for Trump

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Billionaire investor John Paulson will host a Florida fundraiser for Donald Trump next month, as the former president tries to match Joe Biden’s money operation and pay for a growing pile of legal bills and judgments.

Joining Paulson to chair the event will be Robert Bigelow, the real estate investor who was the biggest donor to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s terminated presidential campaign, and shale baron Harold Hamm, who had called on Trump to ditch his run for the White House.

The list of 38 co-chairs includes people who served in Trump’s cabinet, the former ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson, and billionaires from Las Vegas to New York, showing that the former president has won back some top Republican donors despite the criminal charges he faces.

“I am pleased to support President Trump in his re-election efforts,” said Paulson in a statement. “His policies on the economy, energy, immigration and foreign policy will be very beneficial for the country.”

The event in Palm Beach on April 6 will be held just weeks after Trump crushed rivals including DeSantis and Nikki Haley in the Republican primary race to become the party’s presumptive presidential nominee — and called on donors who backed other candidates to unite behind his campaign.

The former president is also racing to raise funds to match President Biden’s campaign, which has opened a big lead in donations while Trump faces millions of dollars in legal bills. On Tuesday, Trump complained that he may be forced into a fire sale of assets to postpone enforcement of a $464mn fraud judgment against him in New York.

The invitation to the fundraiser, obtained by the Financial Times, shows two categories of donors: those who give $814,600 per person and can sit at Trump’s dinner table, and those who give at least $250,000. Both will receive photo opportunities with Trump and a “personalised ‘Our Journey Together’ coffee table book”, the invitation said.

As the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Trump can now legally raise more money per person. The fundraiser will also benefit the Republican National Committee and Save America, a campaign group that has already paid more than $50mn of Trump’s legal fees.

Paulson has known Trump for about 15 years and served on his 2016 economic policy team. He has been mentioned in US media as a potential candidate to be Treasury secretary if Trump wins in November’s general election.

“We are receiving an overwhelming amount of support from donors,” said Paulson. “This support, along with the landslide victory he achieved in the primaries, shows his strong support among Americans.”

Among the donors chairing the event will be sugar tycoon Pepe Fanjul, casino titans Steve Wynn and Phil Ruffin, former commerce department secretary Wilbur Ross, Key Square Group founder Scott Bessent and conservative mega donors Robert and Rebekah Mercer. Intercontinental Exchange founder Jeffrey Sprecher and his wife, former Senator Kelly Loeffler, are also co-chairs, as is World Wrestling Entertainment co-founder Linda McMahon.

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South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy — who all ran against Trump in the primary before endorsing him — will join the event.

Aside from Bigelow and Hamm, other attendees who have now switched to Trump include Omeed Malik, a former DeSantis fundraiser, and Mason Capital’s Ken Garschina, who gave $250,000 to a pro-DeSantis super Pac early last year.

But Trump has struggled to win top donors to Haley’s campaign and in January threatened to blackball her supporters. The former South Carolina governor, who dropped out of the race earlier this month, had warned that Trump would turn the RNC into his own “legal slush fund”.

Two of Haley’s top donors, billionaire investors Ken Griffin and Paul Singer, have so far declined to join Trump. A top outside group for Haley — Americans for Prosperity Action — backed by billionaire Charles Koch’s network, has decided to focus on congressional races.


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