politics

Ricketts to Succeed Wynn as RNC Finance Chairman, Sources Say

Updated on
  • Todd Ricketts is said to win job as party’s top fundraiser
  • Ricketts had withdrawn as deputy Commerce secretary nominee

Wynn Quits Republican Finance Post

The Republican National Committee has chosen Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts to succeed Steve Wynn as the party’s top fundraiser, according to two people with knowledge of the decision.

Ricketts will replace the casino magnate, who resigned Saturday after reports that he had engaged in multiple instances of sexual harassment.

Wynn oversaw a record year of fundraising before being derailed by the allegations of sexual misconduct, which could have hurt a party that has already been losing the votes of suburban women in some House special elections. By picking Ricketts, the RNC recoups a finance chair with connections to some of the party’s biggest contributors as it heads into a challenging midterm election. 

"The RNC hopes Ricketts can grab the baton from Wynn and keep the party gravy train chugging along," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which studies campaign finance. "He hasn’t been at it as long as Wynn, but he swims in the right circles."

Ricketts comes from a family of prolific donors. His parents, Joe and Marlene Ricketts, were the 13th biggest backers of outside political groups in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. They showered $14.5 million across 11 different super PACs, including $5.5 million that Marlene Ricketts donated to Our Principles PAC, which ran ads attacking Trump during the Republican primaries, the center said. Joe Ricketts gave $1 million in Sept. 2016 to Future45, a super PAC that supports Trump. That group’s biggest donors were billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam Adelson, who contributed $20 million.

The Ricketts also started Ending Spending Action Fund, which spent more than $50 million on federal elections on behalf of Republicans between 2012 and 2016. The Ricketts were the group’s biggest supporters, providing $27 million of that total. 

As an individual, Todd Ricketts has given $676,585 to federal candidates, party committees and super political action committees since 2004. 

"Todd is a tremendous leader and will bring a double, extra large Rolodex to the RNC," said  Dan Eberhart, chief executive officer of oil services firm Canary and a GOP donor and fundraiser. "I think he will inject serious energy and enthusiasm into the RNC."

Ricketts, who was President Donald Trump’s first pick to be deputy Commerce secretary, withdrew his nomination for the post in April saying he couldn’t unwind his financial holdings to the satisfaction of the Office of Government Ethics. He was also a finalist last year to lead the Heritage Foundation, the conservative Washington think tank.

The names of Lauren Rakolta, a Michigan fundraiser who’s related to RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and Louis DeJoy, currently national deputy finance chairman, had also been floated for the finance chair role, said two people familiar with the RNC’s thinking. Rakolta served as state finance director for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign when her father, John Rakolta, was a national finance co-chairman. 

Thanks in part to the big donors Wynn attracted, the RNC raised $112 million through the end of November, a record for a non-election year, and had $33.5 million more in the bank than its Democratic counterpart. The duties for the finance chair job include building a national network of fundraisers and courting top donors, who increasingly have more options amid the rise of outside groups that can raise and spend unlimited sums.

Before Wynn, the RNC post was held by New York financier Lew Eisenberg, a longtime Republican money-raiser and a former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

— With assistance by John McCormick

(Updates with comment from Krumholz in fourth paragraph.)
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