By Austin Alonzo
One of the largest donors backing former President Donald Trump is also the biggest financier of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s independent run.
On Jan. 31, the two funds supporting Mr. Kennedy’s White House ambitions reported their fundraising activities for 2023 with the Federal Elections Commission.
Mr. Kennedy’s main fundraising bodies, Team Kennedy, his principal campaign committee, and American Values 2024, a hybrid political action committee supporting his campaign, brought in about $50.4 million in 2023. The pair spent about $30.6 million. They had about $20.3 million in cash on hand at the end of the year.
A hybrid PAC can solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor unions, and other political committees, according to the FEC. It must maintain two bank accounts—one for independent spending on advertisements or voter drives and another for making direct contributions to federal candidates.
In 2024, Mr. Kennedy is hoping to put together the most significant third-party run in decades. His campaign is working to get the candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.
According to the latest major public opinion poll conducted and published by Issues & Insights LLC and Tipp Insights, about 9 percent of voters would pick Mr. Kennedy in a general election featuring him, President Joe Biden, President Trump, and several other third-party candidates.
Three individuals accounted for $26 million of Mr. Kennedy’s 2023 haul.
Mr. Kennedy’s most prominent individual supporter is also a significant donor to President Trump.
Between July and October 2023, Timothy Mellon gave more than $10 million to American Values 2024. That brought his total annual contribution up to about $15 million, or more than half of the money the PAC took in during the year.
Mr. Mellon also gave $10 million to Make America Great Again Inc., the super PAC backing President Trump, between July and August 2023.
Mr. Mellon is a prominent Republican donor who’s regularly made multimillion-dollar contributions to GOP groups like the Congressional Leadership Fund and the Senate Leadership Fund, according to donor records maintained by OpenSecrets.
Ahead of the 2020 election, he contributed $20 million to America First Action, a super PAC opposing President Biden. In 2023, Mr. Mellon donated another $5 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund and gave $2 million to Fair Courts America. That group, according to its website, opposes “progressive activists” in the judiciary.
According to Forbes, the Mellon family is worth an estimated $11.5 billion.
Gavin de Becker
Mr. Kennedy’s second-largest donor is also making a considerable amount of money as the head of his private security detail.
In October 2023, Gavin de Becker donated $5.5 million to American Values 2024. That brought his total contribution to the PAC in 2023 to $10 million. Mr. de Becker’s support accounts for 35 percent of the PAC’s annual fundraising.
Mr. de Becker is the head of the private security firm Gavin de Becker & Associates.
According to financial records, Team Kennedy paid more than $1.4 million to the company for security services in 2023. American Values paid out $9.65 million to Mr. de Becker in transactions that were described as refunds or partial refunds in FEC filings.
Mr. de Becker is not a significant political donor, according to Open Secrets donor records, but he has given small amounts to Democratic and Republican party candidates in the past. The contributions to the Kennedy campaign are the largest of his career.
The Kennedy campaign has previously told The Epoch Times security is one of its significant expenses due to repeated incidents concerning Mr. Kennedy’s safety. Both Mr. Kennedy’s uncle, President John F. Kennedy, and father, former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, were assassinated in the 1960s.
In an interview, Mr. de Becker said he’s provided several donations to Mr. Kennedy’s campaign including what he called “bridge funding.” He said he plans on continuing to provide this kind of money and is sending another $4 million on Feb. 15.
“When not needed during some particular period, American Values returned some money to me,” Mr. de Becker told The Epoch Times. “I’m committed to continue financial assistance if they need it until RFK Jr is elected president.”
The final $1 million-or-more donor is David Centner of Miami Beach, Florida. Mr. Centner is the co-founder of the Miami-based private school Centner Academy.
Mr. Centner gave $1 million to American Values 2024 in July.
Mr. Centner, who co-founded the academy with his wife, Leila Centner, is described as a “successful inventor, serial entrepreneur, tech visionary, and philanthropist” on Centner Academy’s website. He has founded and sold various tech companies.
He is a regular supporter of Republican candidates. According to Open Secrets donor records, he’s given gifts of $100,000 to the RNC and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. He’s also backed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the Sunshine State and President Trump in the past.
In an interview with The Epoch Times, Mr. Centner said he’s gotten to know Mr. Kennedy in recent years and feels the candidate’s views most closely align with his own. Moreover, he’s in good health physically and mentally.
“I feel that he’s singularly capable of unraveling a lot of the issues that have gotten us to where we are today,” Mr. Centner said. “He’s extraordinary knowledgeable about wellness, health, environmental toxins, and the pharmaceutical industry.”
Mr. Centner dismissed the low national polling figures and said the Kennedy campaign is doing well with young and independent voters. That electorate, he said, will understand the candidate’s message and help propel him “right there in the mix” by November.