Ron’s Top 10 Billionaire Buddies & Ultra-Wealthy Donors

As Ron DeSantis continues his campaign for higher office, while neglecting the real issues facing everyday Floridians, one group of people have fully embraced the Governor: America’s billionaires and the ultra-wealthy. In fact, reporting shows that at least 42 billionaires or members of billionaire families have now contributed to Ron’s campaign. 

This has not been limited to billionaires and the ultra-wealthy just in the state of Florida either. A DeSantis Watch review of campaign contributions available in public records shows that of the Governor’s top 10 individual donors, those based outside Florida have contributed $24 million versus $12.6 million from those in-state. 

This analysis examined donations to Friends of Ron DeSantis since the Governor declared his campaign in 2018, as well as donations to the Republican Party of Florida since January 1, 2019, days before he was sworn into office, and only takes into account donations of $5,000 or more.

Let’s take a closer look at Ron’s top 10 billionaire buddies and ultra-wealthy donors, what they’ve invested in the Governor, and how they came to have enough money to spend millions on a politician’s personal ambitions.

  1. Kenneth “Ken” Griffin
    • Net worth: $29.1 billion
    • Amount donated: $16.25 million
    • Bio: A hedge fund billionaire who founded Citadel and Citadel Securities, Ken Griffin has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Republicans nationwide. As Griffin’s net worth has continued to rise during the pandemic, he recently announced that he would be moving his hedge fund to Miami, the epi-center of the nation’s housing crisis. Griffin has been a donor to Ron DeSantis dating back to an initial $5 million contribution in 2018.
  2. Robert Bigelow
    • Net worth: At least $700 million
    • Amount donated: $10 million
    • Bio: Robert Bigelow amassed his fortune as the owner of Budget Suites of America, one of the nation’s first extended-stay hotel chains. He has since used that money to invest around $350 million into Bigelow Aerospace, as well as more “eclectic” pursuits like offering a $1 million prize for proof of an afterlife and to advance his belief that aliens walk among us. His $10 million donation to Friends of Ron DeSantis is the single largest donation the Governor has received from an individual donor.
  3. Isaac “Ike” & Laura Perlmutter
    • Net worth: $4.9 billion
    • Amount donated: $2.75 million
    • Bio: After starting his career in the toy manufacturing business, Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter became a billionaire after selling the Marvel franchise to Disney in 2009. Club members at Mar-a-Lago, the Perlmutters donated at least $21 million towards the election and re-election of former President Donald Trump. The Perlmutters have kept up a steady stream of funding to the Governor’s political ambitions, with eight donations since 2018.
  4. Richard “Dick” & Elizabeth “Liz” Uihlein
    • Net worth: ~$4 billion
    • Amount donated: $1.9 million
    • Bio: While Richard “Dick” Uihlein is an heir to the Schlitz beer fortune, the couple became billionaires from their packing supply company, of which Elizabeth “Liz” Uihlein is president. The Uihleins are prodigious supporters of Republican candidates and causes, spending at least $190 million since 2010 and backing former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore even after widespread accusations of sexual misconduct. In fact, the Uihleins have specialized in bankrolling hard-right candidates, getting involved in numerous contested primaries the last few election cycles and donating $800,000 to Tea Party Patriots in 2020, who helped organize a rally that preceded the January 6 insurrection.
  5. Walter “Buck” Buckley, Jr. 
    • Net worth: Unknown
    • Amount donated: $1.35 million
    • Bio: Walter “Buck” Buckley, Jr. made his initial fortune as part of the dot-com bubble as head of the venture capital fund Internet Capital Group. After changing its name to Actua Corp in 2014, the company was eventually liquidated in 2018. After the liquidation, Buckley, Jr. was also a $1.1 million donor to Donald Trump.
  6. John Childs
    1. Net worth: $1.2 billion
    2. Amount donated: $1.3 million
    3. Bio: John Childs is a private equity billionaire who made his money as the chairman of J.W. Childs Associates, before the company rebranded as Prospect Hill Growth Partners following his arrest for soliciting prostitution in Florida in 2019. While the charges were eventually dropped, Childs resigned from the company he had founded. Childs has continued to donate to Republicans nationwide, including $700,000 to the Governor since 2021.
  7. David MacNeil
    • Net worth: ~$1 billion
    • Amount donated: $1.1 million
    • Bio: The founder and CEO of automotive accessories manufacturer WeatherTech, David MacNeil donated $1 million towards Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. However, in 2018 he stated that he would no longer support political candidates who did not support the DACA program and was initially an Adam Putnam supporter. Now a Florida resident, MacNeil has continued to give large amounts to the Governor despite his strong anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric.
  8. Mark Walsh
    • Net worth: Unknown
    • Amount donated: $1,040,000
    • Bio: Mark Walsh is a multi-millionaire Florida real estate developer and hotelier whose company operates the Key West pier. Following a referendum passed by Keys residents to limit the size of cruise ships allowed to dock at the pier, Walsh and his associated companies donated almost $1 million to the Governor in the run-up to the 2021 legislative session. Later, the Governor would sign a broader transportation bill which contained an amendment that overruled the will of the voters in Key West and overturned the new restrictions on cruise ships.
  9. Paul Tudor Jones
    • Net worth: $7.3 billion
    • Amount donated: $1 million
    • Bio: A hedge fund billionaire who has supported candidates across the political spectrum, Paul Tudor Jones initially donated $250,000 to the Governor in October of 2018. In the spring of 2018, it had come to light that Jones offered support to Harvery Weinstein following revelations of sexual misconduct by the entertainment mogul. The Governor singled out Weinstein at the bill signing of the “Don’t Say LGBTQ” bill following the 2022 session as the type of Hollywood liberal he didn’t want support from.
  10. Miriam & the late Sheldon Adelson
    • Net worth: $28 billion
    • Amount donated: $1 million
    • Bio: As founder, chairman, and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Sheldon Adelson made billions on a network of resorts and gaming establishments throughout the world. Since 2016, the Adelsons have been some of the largest donors to Republicans and conservative causes nationwide, contributing at least $424 million, including as the single largest donors to Donald Trump. Following the death of her husband in 2021, Miriam Adelson continues to be involved in conservative causes and the Adelson family has long eyed the expansion of casino-style gaming in Florida.