Here are LA’s real estate players who donated to Biden and Trump in 2020

Developer Geoff Palmer has given the most to president’s affiliated PACs, but Democratic nominee has support from more top local industry movers

TRD LOS ANGELES /
Oct.October 15, 2020 08:00 AM
From left: Jeff Worthe, Joyce Rey, Geoff Palmer, Jaime Lee and Frank Gehry (Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images, Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images, Grant Smith/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images)

From left: Jeff Worthe, Joyce Rey, Geoff Palmer, Jaime Lee and Frank Gehry (Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images, Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images, Grant Smith/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images)

The presidential election is still nearly three weeks away but already there is a clear winner when it comes to which Los Angeles real estate player donated the most money.

That would be — by far — multifamily developer Geoff Palmer, a longtime supporter of President Trump. Developer Jeff Worthe has given the most amount of cash to Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s side.

The Real Deal tracked 75 of the biggest L.A. brokers, developers and property owners to see who has donated to either candidate directly or through PACs in 2020. Using Federal Election Commission filings, the results showed that just 18 industry pros made contributions of any dollar amount since Jan. 1. Fifty-seven did not contribute.

Just seven of those donors gave $2,000 or more to Biden or Democratic Party PACs. Only Palmer gave to Trump and affiliated Republican PACs.

The donation results come as California’s 55 electoral votes are an almost certain lock for Biden. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton captured 73 percent of the L.A. County vote in 2016, compared to Trump’s 22 percent.

Of those L.A. real estate players who have donated, nearly all have thrown their support to Biden. The total, however, doesn’t come close to what Palmer has given.

The G.H. Palmer Associates head gave $6.4 million to candidates and committees affiliated with either Trump or Republican Party candidates and super PACs. A super PAC can raise unlimited funds from individuals as long as it doesn’t directly coordinate with a candidate’s campaign.

Worthe — of Brentwood-based Worthe Real Estate Group — gave $100,000 to the Biden Victory Fund. The group coordinates between Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee and is not a super PAC. Worthe also gave $35,500 to the DNC itself.

Among L.A. residential brokers, Coldwell Banker agent Joyce Rey was the top donor on either side. She gave $5,400 directly to the Biden campaign, according to FEC filings.

Those who contributed did not return messages or declined to comment.

Trump megadonor

Among Palmer’s contributions was a $4 million donation to America First Action super PAC. Katie Walsh, Trump’s former deputy chief of staff, formed the group in 2017, and Palmer is one of its top donors, according to the FEC.

His allegiance to Trump is well-established. Besides donating millions of dollars to help get Trump elected in 2016, Palmer has also hosted Trump fundraisers in L.A.

Palmer also contributed to Republican Congressional candidates across the country this year. He has cut checks of $10,000 each to Republican Party groups in 24 states.

Biden’s backers

Hudson Pacific Properties CEO Victor Coleman and famed architect Frank Gehry have been among Biden’s biggest industry backers in L.A. Both gave $50,000 each to the Biden Victory Fund.

Thomas Safran, chairman of multifamily development company Safran & Associates, has given a total of $45,000 in 2020 to Biden, affiliated organizations and Democratic Party groups. That includes $25,000 to Unite the Country, a Biden super PAC, and $10,000 to the California Democratic Party.

Jaime Lee, a top executive at development and investment firm Jamison, gave $2,800 to Biden’s campaign directly. The L.A.-based family firm has become one of the biggest multifamily developers in Koreatown.

Rick Caruso, who owns the Grove mall and is a fixture in L.A. politics and business, gave $2,800 to Win the Era. The PAC was started by former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who has become an outspoken Biden supporter.


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