Boston Team Owners’ Political Contributions Skew Democratic
All four major Boston sports owners preside over some of the most successful and storied franchises in the country. But when it comes to the political arena, one man stands above them all.
According to the Big Lead, Patriots owner Robert Kraft donated $204,300 to political candidates and fundraising pacts from 2008-2014, with 63.8 percent of those contributions going to Democrats. In the 2012 presidential race, Kraft pledged $57,900 to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee for President Barack Obama.
Kraft’s generous contributions to Democrats would seem to contradict his recent praise of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. Kraft told the Globe in a statement Monday the bombastic billionaire is a “very close friend,” mentioning Trump’s unwavering support when Kraft’s wife, Myra, passed away in 2011. But Kraft, much like Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs’ family and Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, has donated to both sides of the political aisle over the years—albeit on a much larger scale.
Though Jacobs and Grousbeck have waded into politics less than Kraft, they still eclipse the reported recent contributions of Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry. Insidegov.com’s database doesn’t have any political contributions from Henry past 2004, when he donated $58,500 to several Democratic candidates and organizations.
A list of some of the most notable recent donations from all four owners is below, with information compiled from Insidegov and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Robert Kraft’s Notable Donations:
- $40,000 to the NFL’s bi-partisan lobbying group, the Gridiron PAC, from 2008-2015
- $3,600 to the Markey Committee in 2014
- $1,000 to Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate in 2014
- $2,600 to Team Graham in 2014
- $57,900 to Obama Victory Fund in 2012
- $25,000 to Obama Victory in 2008
- $25,000 to McCain Victory in 2008
- $2,300 to John McCain 2008
- $2,300 to Romney for President in 2008
- $35,000 to the Democratic Congressional Committee Campaign and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2008 and 2009
Kraft, like many prominent businessmen, spreads out his money to politicians across the spectrum. He doesn’t seem to donate along strong ideological lines, considering he gave the same amount of money to Obama and McCain in 2008.
More than anything, it appears as if Kraft’s goal with his political contributions is to wield influence rather than promote a specific set of policies. That’s the only explanation for his support of both Ed Markey, one of the most liberal members of the Senate, and Marco Rubio, who says he wants abortion outlawed even in the cases of rape and incest.
Considering Sen. Lindsey Graham has dropped out of the race and he only gave $1,000 to Rubio in 2014, Kraft doesn’t seem to have a favorite yet in this year’s presidential contest. But his track record indicates he’ll likely open up his checkbook once the general election begins.
John Henry’s Notable Donations:
- $283,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 1998
- $300,000 to the DCCC and DSCC in 2000
- $100,000 to the DSCC in 2002
- $25,000 to the Democratic National Committee Services Corp in 2004
- $10,000 to the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball Political Action Committee in 2003 and 2004
Henry’s track record indicates he’s a fervent Democrat, though it’s worth mentioning he tweeted his support last month for former New York City mayor and Wall Street titan Michael Bloomberg to launch a third party presidential campaign.
Henry’s political activism over the last decade pales in comparison to former Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, who’s stumped for Hillary Clinton on various occasions during this campaign. Lucchino has also donated to Obama, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Rep. Joe Kennedy III over the years.
Jacobs Family Notable Donations:
- $17,950 to Republicans in 2014
- $7,430 to Democrats in 2014
- $21,750 to Romney Victory in 2012
- $5,800 to Kirsten Gillibrand for Congress in 2010
- $4,000 to Hillary Clinton for President in 2008
- $10,000 to the West Virginia State Democratic Exec Committee in 2008
- $4,000 to Bush-Cheney ’04
- $2,000 to John Kerry for President in 2004
The only two Massachusetts politicians who the Jacobs family donated significant money to from 2008-2014 were Sen. Markey and Rep. Seth Moulton. The Jacobs, residents of East Aurora, New York, largely stay out of Bay State politics.
Their recent track record indicates they’re relatively centrist, with donations going to the moderate Romney and business-friendly Democrats such as Clinton and Kerry.
Wyc Grousbeck Notable Donations:
- $2,400 to Celtics co-owner Pagliuca for Senate in 2010 (Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca’s senate campaign)
- $2,300 to Romney for President in 2008
- $2,300 to Obama for America in 2008
- $5,000 to the Commonwealth PAC in 2006
- $11,000 to the DNC Services Corp in 2004
Grousbeck, who made his fortune as a venture capitalist, seems to be fairly split along ideological lines.
Despite Obama’s occasionally harsh rhetoric against Wall Street, many of his donors in both 2008 and 2012 were from the financial sector, including Grousbeck. Just like Kraft, Grousbeck has donated to competing presidential candidates.