Sen. Kyrsten Sinema pulls in cash from Wall Street, real estate titans as she mulls reelection bid

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  • Veterans of the real estate and private equity industries, including companies such as Blackstone, are controlling Sen. Kirsten Sinema as the Arizona lawmaker considers seeking re-election in 2024.
  • The senator, who switched from Democrat to independent in December, goes into 2023 with $8.2 million in hand.
  • A week before Sinema changed its affiliation, she attended a private fundraising luncheon in New York with at least a dozen titans of the real estate and private equity industries.
  • Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego has jumped into the race for Sinema’s seat, which will be one of the most important in determining control of the Senate next year.

Sen. Kirsten Sinema raked in campaign cash from corporate leaders late last year as she prepared for a potentially high-stakes 2024 re-election bid in the battleground state of Arizona.

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Sinema, a centrist swing vote in the narrowly divided Senate, switched his party affiliation from Democrat to independent in December. Real estate and private equity leaders, who have long helped fill Sinema’s campaign coffers, contributed a healthy amount of cash to the senator in the final months of last year.

As Sinema considers whether to launch a bid for a second Senate term, the senator’s campaign entered 2023 with $8.2 million in cash, according to a new Federal Election Commission filing. Sinema’s campaign raised more than $800,000 during the last three months of 2022, and a portion of that money came from affiliated committees, according to campaign filing Which became public on Tuesday.

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Since October, Sinema has been backed by leaders such as private equity giants black Stonealong with the president of the Chamber of Commerce, America’s largest business lobbying group, according to the filing.

A spokesperson for Sinima did not respond to a request for comment.

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Sinema did fundraising before changing his party affiliation – and faced a potential primary challenge from the left – and after the switch. Sinema, who blocked major Democratic tax proposals in the last Congress that would have affected private equity and corporations, has largely kept his allies in the business community after leaving the Democratic Party.

A week before Sinema became an independent from a Democrat, she attended a private fundraising luncheon in New York attended by at least a dozen titans of the real estate and private equity industries, political fundraising familiar with the matter said. One and according to the invitation. events.

The lunch, which took place on December 2 at a private club within 75 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan, was hosted by two real estate executives: Scott Rechler, president and CEO of RXR Realty, and Jeff Blau, CEO of Related Company. for the invitation. The event supported the Sinema Leadership Fund, a joint fundraising committee benefiting her campaign and her leadership PAC called Getting Stuff Done. Donors can give between $2,900 and $10,800 to attend the gathering, according to the contribution website for purchasing tickets to the event.

Blau encouraged donors to come to the December event because he believes Sinema is an “intellectually gifted, smart legislator who is one of the most courageous and independent voices in the Senate,” the CEO of the respective company and his Wife, Lisa, according to an email invitation signed by.

“There is a price to be paid for his freedom,” the invitation said.

A spokesperson for the company concerned declined to comment.

At lunch, Sinema discussed the upcoming Congress and how tight margins could create gridlock in both chambers, according to attendees. She also talked about her plans to work with Republicans. Sinema did not say at the lunch that she was planning to leave the Democratic Party and become an independent, these people said.

The invitation Blau sent to donors suggests that the fundraiser was meant to shield Sinema from a potential primary challenge. Corporate leaders have often jumped to her defense, and most of those allies seem unimpressed since Sinema became independent.

Rechler, the second organizer, told CNBC in an email Tuesday that he supported Sinema at the event in December “and I continue to support him today.”

The realty executive said he and his wife have known Sinima for years. Rechler donated $10,800 to the Sinema Leadership Fund in late November, according to FEC filings, ahead of a fundraising luncheon held at the private Club 75.

While many donors remained in favor of Sinema after she left the Democratic Party, the move lost some of their support. Two donors invited to the December luncheon, who declined to be named to share their views on Sinema, said they would support the Democratic nominee for his seat next year. One of the contributors came to lunch and the other decided not to attend.

A corporate leader who went to the lunch said that he would have held back on donating to Sinema if he had known that she would run as an independent. The person fears his decision will split votes in the 2024 race between Sinema and a Democrat, allowing Republicans to take a key Senate seat.

Another wealthy donor who was invited to the luncheon but did not attend said Sinema opposed the disclosure of interest loopholes, which benefit the many private equity leaders who support him, has prompted him to consider endorsing the Democratic nominee for his seat. ,

Sinema’s decision to leave the party has changed views about him beyond the donor community. Since the senator became an independent, the share of Democrats in his state who disapprove of him has increased by 18 percentage points, according to a New Morning Consult Poll.

But his approval ratings among both independents and Republicans in the state improved after the decision. Overall, Morning Consult ranked him as the fifth most unpopular US senator.

A week after the dedication, Sinema announced that she would form an independent but still caucus with Senate Democrats and continue her committee functions. She also sits on the influential Senate Banking Committee as well as the Commerce and Homeland Security committees.

Some Democrats in his state have long pushed for a more moderate challenger to Sinema, and his decision to leave the party opened the door for alternative candidates. Progressive Representative Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., launched his campaign for Sinema’s seat last month.

The Arizona election next year will be one of the most important Senate races in the country. Democrats face a challenging map as they try to cling to their 51-49 majority in the chamber.

The sitting senator has not announced whether she will seek re-election. But if she does, she will be entering a potentially difficult campaign with the backing of business leaders.

The latest FEC filings from his campaign and affiliated committees, which cover October through late December, show that corporate leaders from Wall Street, real estate and tech, among other industries, flooded Sinema’s campaign coffers before and after Filled right after. Be an independent

Sinema’s campaign has already received more than $2 million from the securities and investment industry since the 2018 election cycle. Wall Street executives have lobbied his office in an effort to preserve interest loopholes made in the past.

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This trend continued at the end of last year. Martin Brand, head of Blackstone’s North America private equity division, contributed $5,800 to Sinema’s campaign in October, according to an FEC filing.

Sinema Campaign Sees Dozens of Contributions Totaling Over $145,000 From people working at Apollo Global Management, another giant private equity firm, since October. The campaign recently received over $60,000 from According to the new filing, Joe works at private equity giant TPG. According to the latest filing, the support from TPG executives included a $5,800 donation from the firm’s co-founder James Coulter in October.

Representatives of the firms did not respond to requests for comment.

Suzanne Clark, CEO of the giant pro-business lobbying group US Chamber of Commerce, also donated $1,000 to Sinema’s campaign on December 31, new FEC filings show.

A spokeswoman for the chamber of commerce told CNBC that Sinema is a leader on taxation and other key policy issues that are “very important to the business community.”

“The Chamber and our leaders support pro-business lawmakers who advance pro-growth policies that propel the American economy,” Tim Doyle, a spokesman for the chamber, told CNBC. “Sen. Sinema is a leader on taxation, infrastructure, and technology and innovation issues, all of which are extremely important to the business community.”

Records show Clarke made contributions to other lawmakers last year, including donations to the campaign of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

William Hornbuckle, CEO of MGM Resorts International, also gave $2,900 to the Sinema campaign on December 20, according to the filing. A spokeswoman for MGM Resorts declined to comment.

Alfred E. Mottur, a lobbyist for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, donated $1,000 to Sinema’s campaign in late December. Mottur said in an email that he plans to help her get re-elected – and is backing away from his decision to become an independent.

“He is one of the most effective first term senators in modern history without whom we could not have had the gun control package, the gay marriage bill, the infrastructure bill, and the list goes on. I am proud to have helped him get elected. campaign,” Mottur said.

Correction: Representatives for Apollo Global Management and TPG did not respond to a request for comment. An earlier version misstated that fact.

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