Here’s where real estate leaders put their money in 2020 election cycle

Adelson, Schwarzman and Marcus gave millions; overwhelming amount went to Republican leaning fundraising committees

National Insights /
Nov.November 10, 2020 03:00 PM
George Marcus, Sheldon Adelson and Stephen Schwarzman (Marcus & Millichap, Getty)

George Marcus, Sheldon Adelson and Stephen Schwarzman (Marcus & Millichap, Getty)

The presidential election captured the most attention but it was just one of the races that top real estate brokers, developers and industry executives contributed their money to during the 2020 election cycle.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam contributed more than $54 million to Republican leaning or conservative committees during the election season this year, by far the most of any real estate player. Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman gave $27 million to Republican political action committees, including $3 million to America First Action, a super PAC that supports candidates who back President Trump’s policies.

Marcus & Millichap co-founder George Marcus contributed nearly $5 million to Democratic leaning committees, while Choice Hotels International chairman Stewart Bainum Jr. gave nearly $3 million to Democratic leaning committees. That includes $40,500 for the Maryland Victory Fund, which raised money to help elect Democratic House and Senate candidates.

All told, 48 major real estate industry players The Real Deal tracked contributed at least $5,000 each to a variety of political committees, campaigns and candidates. The data was taken from Federal Election Commission filings in 2020.

The data shows Republican leaning committees received far more money from industry leaders than Democratic leaning committees did.

From Jan. 1 to Nov. 2, industry players gave about $100 million to Republican leaning committees compared to the $12.6 million donated to Democratic leaning committees.

While the average contribution was about $200,000, the median amount was far less, around $10,000. That can be attributed to a few very large contributions skewing the total. The average contribution to Republican leaning committees was about $250,000 while the average amount given to Democratic leaning committees was just $71,000.

Adelsons and everyone else

The Adelsons led the way, contributing exclusively to Republican or conservative leaning fundraising committees.

In June, the couple gave matching $12.5 million contributions to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super-PAC established to support Republican candidates for U.S. Senate races nationwide.

They also gave matching $750,000 contributions to the Georgia Action Fund in September 2019. Those were the biggest contributions to any state-level Republican committee. The Georgia Action Fund was established to oppose Democratic Senate challenger Jon Ossof in his race against Republican incumbent David Perdue. The contest is advancing to a runoff in January because neither candidate won at least 50 percent of the vote. The outcome of that race — along a runoff for the state’s other Senate seat — will determine whether Democrats have a majority in Congress.

TRD also broke down contributions by location. The biggest industry contributors were from Las Vegas, largely because of the Adelsons. But the city also counts prolific Republican donors such as casino magnates Steve Wynn and Phillip Ruffin. Las Vegas real estate players contributed $61.5 million to Republican committees in 2020.

For Democrats, the biggest contributions came from Palo Alto, California, where George Marcus lives.


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