Gates, Koch Help Fund Senate Committees, DSCC Buys a Home

Bill Gates, co-chair and trustee of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. director, tosses a newspaper as he tours the exhibition floor prior to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 3, 2014.

Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Bill Gates, co-chair and trustee of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. director, tosses a newspaper as he tours the exhibition floor prior to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 3, 2014.

Two of the world’s six richest people made large campaign contributions last month to the two partisan organizations overseeing political strategy in this year’s Senate elections.

You’ll recognize the names.

Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and the world’s richest person, sent $15,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. David Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries, sixth richest in the world, and a frequent target of attacks by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, sent $32,400 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

They were among marquee donors to the Senate campaign committees in April, when Democrats edged Republicans by $6.3 million to $6 million in receipts and ended the month with a cash-on-hand advantage of $25 million to $19.3 million, according to reports the DSCC and NRSC filed last week with the Senate public records office.

Democrats will try to use their financial edge to limit their losses in the November election, partly by shifting millions of dollars to affiliates in states to run get-out-the-vote efforts. Democrats are defending 21 Senate seats compared with 15 for Republicans, and most of the competitive races are in states where Democrats are the defending party.

Blair Effron, co-founder of Centerview Partners, who hosted Obama for a DSCC fundraiser earlier this month, and Chicago media company executive Fred Eychaner each gave $32,400 to the DSCC. Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, billionaire investment firm executive Paul Singer and reality television star Donald Trump each gave $32,400 to the NRSC.

Gates, Koch and other wealthy donors are limited to giving $32,400 per year to a national party committee. They can give unlimited amounts to super-political action committees and to nonprofit groups like Americans for Prosperity, which Koch founded along with his brother Charles.

David Koch is among donors who have given more than the aggregate donation limits that were invalidated by the Supreme Court last month, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group that tracks campaign giving.

The Senate campaign committees are permitted to receive unlimited amounts from senators’ campaign committees, and Democrats have traditionally availed themselves of this strategy more frequently than Republicans. Democratic Sens. Pat Leahy of Vermont and Tom Carper of Delaware each sent $150,000 to the DSCC last month, while Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota transferred $100,000 to the group.

The DSCC’s April expenditures included a $50,000 deposit to the First American Title Insurance Company as part of its purchase of a building adjacent to the DSCC headquarters, close to the Supreme Court building northeast of the Capitol. The DSCC has rented part of the building, the Mott House, for the past 11 years, using the space for some office staff.

The DSCC is buying the Mott House using a $5.1 million loan, with the DSCC-owned headquarters and the new property as collateral. The mortgage on the Mott House will appear as a debt on the DSCC’s May campaign-finance report, which will be filed on or about June 20. 

“We’ve been renting this property for years and we’re pleased to have the opportunity to own it outright,” DSCC executive director Guy Cecil said in a statement. “The purchase makes good, long term financial sense for the committee and does not require us to lay out any additional money before the election.”

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