Billionaires Donate Early in Presidential Race

“Billionaires are bankrolling the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign to an unprecedented degree, with at least 40 of the wealthiest Americans plowing $60 million into super PACs aligned with the top tier of candidates,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The torrent of super PAC money is revolutionizing presidential politics in the wake of a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that opened the door to unlimited contributions from corporations, unions and individuals into these outside groups.”

Hillary Clinton Hits Jeb Bush Hard on Race

“In a biting surprise attack, delivered as Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor, waited backstage here at the annual convention of the National Urban League, Mrs. Clinton portrayed him as a hypocrite who had set back the cause of black Americans,” the New York Times reports.

“It was an unexpected moment of political theater that seemed to presage what could be a bitter general-election rivalry between two of the biggest names in American politics.”

Politico: “When Bush finally took the stage to address issues of race and repairing American cities, he didn’t hit back.”

Pacific Trade Deal Stalls

“Trade negotiators from the United States and 11 other Pacific nations were headed toward failure Friday, with difficult talks on the largest regional trade agreement ever breaking down over protections for pharmaceutical companies and access to agriculture markets on both sides of the Pacific,” the New York Times reports.

“Negotiators will return to their home countries to obtain high-level signoffs for a small number of final sticking points on the agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with bilateral talks reconvening soon. But the breakdown is a setback for the Obama administration, which had promoted the talks here as the final round ahead of an accord that would bind 40 percent of the world’s economy under a new set of rules for commerce.”

Jeb Bush’s Biggest Donor Doesn’t Agree With Him

“The single largest donor to Right to Rise, Mike Fernandez, didn’t hand over a check for a sum that seems obtainable only though some form of global dominion. Fernandez wrote a check for $3 million.  Fernandez, a Miami-area businessman who runs a health-care industry-focused private equity firm, doesn’t agree with Bush on at least two issues that have already come up in the 2016 campaign,” the Washington Post reports.

“Many health-care executives across the country — including in deeply red states — have been generally if not vocally supportive of the Affordable Care Act. That support includes the Medicaid expansion that has been rejected by some Republican-controlled state governments. Bush opposes the Medicaid expansion.”

“Fernandez, a Cuban American who fled Cuba with his family following Castro’s takeover, is also a vocal and on-the-record supporter of Obama’s move toward normalizing relations with Cuba. Bush is not. Softening sanctions against Cuba strengthens the Castro regime, Bush said this month.”

Quote of the Day

“Two individuals right now that have sort of caught the attention. One of them is way over on this side — I don’t know where to put him, but he’s not on the libertarian side. He’s making a lot of noise. That’s a guy named Trump. The other is named Bernie Sanders.”

— Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), quoted by the Washington Post, on presidential race.

Clinton Donors Also Big Backers of Foundation

“The Clinton Foundation saw a significant increase in donations this year from fundraisers who also have volunteered to steer at least $100,000 each to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“At least 14 of the fundraisers, called Hillblazers, donated to the foundation in the first half of 2015 and have cumulatively given between $22 million and $55 million since the organization started in 1999, according to a comparison of the foundation and campaign disclosures. At the end of 2014, those 14 fundraisers had given between $16 million and $38 million. Eight of these donors stepped up their foundation donations enough to be pushed into a higher bracket in the first six months.”

First Read: “No matter how much Team Clinton says that there is absolutely no relationship between donations to the Foundation and influence with a Clinton campaign/possible administration, these correlations just highlight that, if there was even a whiff of possibility for gaining additional influence through donations, donors certainly didn’t want to risk missing out on it.”