Deep-blue California: Where the GOP, hard right come for cash

A photo illustration of hundred-dollar bills. (Image: iQoncept, via Shutterstock)

Staunch Donald Trump allies and the far right of the Republican Party have found deep-blue California – the state they love to hate – to be a treasure trove.

California, where Democrats hold every statewide elected office and overwhelmingly control the Legislature, has long been a political ATM for campaigns across the county, especially Democrats.

But hard-right Republicans are increasingly seeing the Golden State, the wealthiest state in the country, as the Golden Goose.

About 13 percent of Trump’s PAC money, or $8.4 million, came from California, the state which the former president has frequently denounced in public.

From January 2021 through May 2022, Donald Trump, 20 of the most right-wing Republican members of Congress and three notable political action committees have raised at least $24.47 million from individual contributors in California, according to a review of campaign finance statements filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Since the start of the 2022 election cycle, Donald Trump has raised $63.2 million through three political action committees, or PACs — Trump Make America Great Again Committee, Make America Great Again, and Save America PAC.

About 13 percent of Trump’s PAC money, or $8.4 million, came from California, the state which the former president has frequently denounced in public. Once, he threatened to withhold disaster funds from California after a wildfire because the state did not “rake its forests.”

California has been very good to far-right Republican House member Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who is both quick to insult and take money from California. In November 2018, Greene accused Gov. Jerry Brown of employing “Jewish space lasers” to start the Camp Fire. She has proposed that California transplants to Florida and other states be prevented from voting and insinuated that shoplifting baby formula is legal in California. Since January 2021, Greene has raised more cash from California ($369,000) than she has from her own home state of Georgia ($288,000).

A political flyer of Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Put America First – a PAC created by Greene and close ally Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida – also counts California as it’s number one source of campaign cash.

While Gaetz has been more successful finding money ($389,000) in his home state than Greene has in Georgia, California is Gaetz’s second-biggest statewide source of money ($258,000).

Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican, is another close ally of Greene and Gaetz. Boebert, an extreme gun-rights advocate who is “tired of this separation of church and state junk,” is a prolific fundraiser. Boebert’s home state of Colorado is her biggest bank ($1 million), followed by Texas ($355,000), Florida ($265,000), and California ($186,000).

Trump ally and California critic Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) counts California in his top three money makers. Followed by Ohio ($419,000) and Florida ($290,000), California ponied-up about $285,000 for his political efforts. Jordan’s take might be more, as the congressman has a history of not disclosing campaign contributions.

Jordan protégé Scott Perry, R-Pennsylvania, is not as well-known as his mentor, but for someone who only recently became a national name, Perry is an apt fundraiser.

He has raised $543,000 from Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, and California for his campaign and leadership PAC. Perry also raises funds for the House Freedom Caucus, the hard-right group founded by Jim Jordan and former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows.

As chair of the Freedom Caucus, Perry has raised $4.8 million from the states. Florida, Texas, and California – the top three contributors – account for nearly half of the House Freedom Fund’s money. While both Florida and Texas have several Freedom Caucus members, California has none.

Other far-right and Trumpist Republican House members who hit up Californians for money are:

–North Carolina’s Madison Cawthorn ($135,000)

–Texas’s Ronny Jackson ($70,000) and Louie Gohmert ($3,100)

–Arizona Republican Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar  ($19,000 each)

–Alabama’s Mo Brooks ($105,000).

Cawthorn, Gohmert, and Brooks will not be returning to Congress after their current terms expire.

California is Sen. Cruz’s second biggest source of individual contributions, after his home state of Texas.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Ron Johnson – regular California critics and the upper chamber’s loudest proponents of the “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was rigged in Joe Biden’s favor —  have also tapped California for good money.

California is Sen. Cruz’s second biggest source of individual contributions, after his home state of Texas. Through the 2022 election season, Cruz raised $926,000 from Californians.

Though Sen. Josh Hawley’s California haul is more modest than Cruz’s, the $348,000 he raised from the state is second only to Missouri, the state he represents.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson has had more success pulling money out of Texas, Florida, and his home state than from California. Still. His $271,000 is a significant grab.

Sen. Tom Cotton represents Arkansas in the Senate, but would be desperate for money if he relied on the Razorback state for cash. His biggest cash source is California.

Though Scott has been successful in raising big money for NRSC, it has not come without consternation from his fellow Republicans.

Individual contributions from Cotton’s home state account for $239,000 of Cotton’s 2022 election-cycle money. Cotton’s paltry Arkansas take makes it fifth on his money list, following Texas, New York, Florida, and California. California is Cotton’s top source of money — $686,000, nearly three times the money he’s gotten from Arkansas.

California is also in the top five independent contribution sources for U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi and Rand Paul of Kentucky. Another Trumpist Republican hooked on California gold is Florida Sen. Rick Scott, second of Scott’s top five sources at $315 ,000.

Scott also heads up the National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC), a PAC that raises tens of millions for Republican candidate running for senator. After Florida ($14.7 million), California is the NRSC’s biggest source of individual contribution ($9.7 million).

Though Scott has been successful in raising big money for NRSC, it has not come without consternation from his fellow Republicans.

Why California? It’s because, as bank robber Willie Sutton once said, he robs banks because “that’s where the money is.

The Washington Post reported that at NRSC fundraisers Scott asks donors “to give their first $10,800 to his campaign account and a separate leadership PAC, before anything goes to the NRSC.” He also set up the Rick Scott Victory Fund (RSVF) as a joint fundraising PAC for his campaign and leadership PAC and the NRSC. After Florida, California is RSVF’s No. 2 source of contributions.

It is no surprise that Florida and Texas figure prominently in the lists of campaign cash to Republican and pro-Trump contenders.  Both states are Republican strongholds with large economies. Florida is not only Donald Trump’s home base, but many hard-right politicians use Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Trump National Golf Course, and other West Palm Beach venues for fundraising events.

But, why California, the bluest of blue states? It’s because, as bank robber Willie Sutton once said, he robs banks because “that’s where the money is.” It is also where many Republicans live.

Though California hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988 (George H. W. Bush over Michael Dukakis), and it’s been 16-years since a Republican won a statewide election (Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner), California still retains a significant Republican base of 5.3 million registered voters.

In 2020, more Californians voted for Donald Trump (6 million) than did those in reliably red Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia combined (5.9 million).

Such a large number of Trump supporters means that hard-right politicians can hit the grassroots and pull substantial money. The median average dollar amount raised from unique individuals is $250.

No matter that Republicans are a dwindling minority in California. The sheer number of the state’s right, far-right and Trump allies entices politicians from across the country, including those who most stridently denounce California and its political donors. California has gone from the hard-right’s punching bag to a pinata: Whack the state hard enough, money will fall out.

In 2018, during his successful run against sitting-Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a spokesperson for Josh Hawley said of McCaskill, “Only an arrogant liberal who thinks Missourians are backward and stupid would go get a boatload of money in Beverly Hills while accusing her opponent of being an elitist.”

In 2022, Hawley’s biggest source of individual contributions is California.

Top five state sources of individual contributions to Republican hard-right politicians and related PACs:


Donald Trump

Trump Make America Great Again Committee

Make America Great Again PAC

Save America PAC

CA          $8,419,465.04

TX          $6,770,724.32

FL           $6,074,172.11

NY          $2,589,265.31

AZ          $2,038,661.94


Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)

Blackburn for Senate

Making a Responsible Stand for Households in America PAC

TN          $793,314.74

FL           $169,867.60

CA          $139,054.99

TX          $136,871.60

VA          $110,327.47


Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)

Cotton for Senate

Republican Majority Fund PAC

CA          $686,372.34

FL           $601,406.17

NY          $448,377.41

TX          $333,759.20

AR          $239,139.75


Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Ted Cruz for Senate

Jobs, Freedom & Security PAC

TX          $3,081,612.70

CA          $926,357.27

FL           $566,452.95

NY          $199,980.01

PA          $147,120.36


Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)

Josh Hawley for Senate

Fighting for Missouri PAC

MO        $1,534,286.55

CA          $348,184.34

FL           $257,945.98

TX          $246,231.07

KS          $134,383.84


Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS)

Hyde-Smith for Senate

Conservatives Harvesting Success PAC

MS         $117,297.34

DC          $18,250.00

TX          $10,180.19

CA          $9,907.00

OH         $9,249.33


Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)

Johnson for Senate

Strategy PAC

WI          $2,212,243.11

FL           $958,741.39

TX          $693,847.82

CA          $271,768.80

IL            $245,764.14


Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Rand Paul for Senate

Reinventing a New Direction PAC

TX          $1,220,790.70

KY          $1,169,827.68

CA          $828,587.00

FL           $792,658.67

NY          $371,004.04


Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL)

Rick Scott for Florida

Let’s Get To Work PAC

FL           $2,137,488.85

CA          $315,865.23

TX          $111,026.90

IL            $77,186.27

NY          $67,163.34


Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ)

Biggs for Congress

AZ          $299,936.53

FL           $38,391.00

CA          $19,993.00

MA        $14,745.00

WY         $14,600.00


Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO)

Boebert for Congress

We the People PAC

CO          $1,093,779.47

TX          $355,411.38

FL           $265,394.74

CA          $186,357.32

NY          $71,510.37


Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL)

Mo Brooks for Senate

AL          $1,216,417.23

FL           $220,492.94

TX          $122,536.35

CA          $105,486.75

WI          $68,762.00


Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC)

Cawthorn for NC

Making a Difference in Service to Our Nation PAC

NC          $529,872.97

FL           $179,545.70

CA          $135,526.18

TX          $105,834.16

GA         $52,170.65


Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)

Friends of Matt Gaetz

FL           $389,079.02

CA          $258,453.20

TX          $134,537.93

NY          $69,563.77

AZ          $53,442.78


Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)

Greene for Congress

Save America Stop Socialism PAC

CA          $369,315.94

FL           $319,776.27

TX          $308,832.55

GA         $288,134.02

AZ          $94,890.82


Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

Louie Gohmert for Congress

TX          $92,290.00

CO          $6,115.00

MI          $3,550.00

CA          $3,100.00

MO        $1,000.00


Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ)

Paul Gosar for Congress

Protecting America Under Law PAC

AZ          $110,187.95

FL           $27,278.31

CA          $19,175.00

TX          $17,600.00

WY         $11,800.00


Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX)

Texas for Jackson

Texas Red PAC

TX          $770,365.81

FL           $122,016.76

CA          $70,575.90

NY          $69,354.00

VA          $59,952.87


Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)

Jim Jordan for Congress

OH         $419,119.68

FL           $290,549.34

CA          $284,859.21

TX          $283,990.86

WA        $86,655.99


Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA)

Patriots for Perry

First Capital PAC

PA          $176,549.25

FL           $158,289.23

TX          $111,455.15

CA          $97,552.70

NY          $35,398.37


House Freedom Fund

(House Freedom Caucus)

FL           $1,244,192.12

TX          $462,939.84

CA          $397,427.97

IL            $270,195.78

TN          $230,608.38


Put America First PAC


CA          $48,500.00

TX          $13,400.00

FL           $5,500.00

GA         $3,120.00

AZ          $1,700.00


NRSC (National Republican Senatorial Committee)

(Rick Scott, chair)

FL           $14,778,835.24

CA          $9,721,026.54

NY          $5,028,323.60

IL            $4,047,295.89

GA         $3,670,373.86


Rick Scott Victory Fund

(Rick Scott For Florida, Let’s Get To Work, Pac, NRSC)

FL            $4,992,978.07

CA           $807,200.00

IL             $762,800.00

MA         $630,500.00

DC           $462,436.38

Source: Federal Election Commission, June 2022

Editor’s Note: Dollar figures include contributions reported to each candidate’s campaign fund and related political action committees. Numbers do not include money raised via WinRed, the Republican Party’s digital fundraising portal or independent campaign committees working on behalf of a candidate or candidates.

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