Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, in an interview at the CNBC office in San Francisco, April 28, 2015.
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LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman wants to elect more Democrats to Congress this fall, but first he has to defeat some Democrats this summer.
The billionaire is spending millions on campaigns against what his advisers see as radical far-left Democrats in hopes of bringing more moderate Democrats to the general election in November, where the party will have a better chance of beating the Republicans and keep control of Congress.
Hoffman has already donated more than $4 million to the 2022 midterm election cycle, including nearly $2 million to the mainstream Democrats’ PAC and the House Majority PAC, combined. Political action committees have either targeted what Hoffman’s political strategist called “extremist” candidates or supported their opponents in House races.
“Our political philanthropy is focused on undermining the political power of the anti-American Trump-MAGA movement,” said Dmitri Mehlhorn, Hoffman’s chief political adviser. “Far-left groups, such as the Justice Democrats, aid the MAGA movement by attacking centrist Democrats who can win the general election.”
Hoffman supports PACs that oppose candidates who have ties to the Justice Democrats, a political action committee that backs members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The caucus is a group of some of the most liberal and outspoken Democrats in the House, including Rep. Maxine Waters of California and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jerrold Nadler, both of New York.
“Given the damage Justice Democrats and their allies have done to the Democratic brand, we’ve had to invest modest capital in the response,” Mehlhorn said, declining further comment on Hoffman’s next round of donations.
In a recent meeting with some of the nation’s wealthiest financiers, Hoffman warned that if Republican candidates deeply loyal to former President Donald Trump win the 2022 midterm elections, they could “install Trump in 2024. regardless of the vote”, according to Puck News and The Washington Post. He called the GOP candidates “leaders of MAGA.”
Hoffman has been a major political donor for years, including in the 2020 election, when he actively raised money for President Joe Biden’s campaign and donated more than $2 million to super PACs supporting Biden’s bid for the White House. Super PACs, such as traditional Democrats, can spend and raise an unlimited amount of money to take on their opponents.
Hoffman and the mainstream Democrats’ PAC did not respond to requests for comment.
Hoffman hosted a virtual fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee last year, with tickets for up to $875,000. Biden thanked Hoffman for his “generous support” at the event, according to a White House transcript of the president’s remarks.
Federal Election Commission records show Hoffman has already contributed $500,000 this election cycle to the mainstream Democrats’ PAC, which campaigns against liberal Democrats who run against moderates in their primary battles. The donation, which was sent to PAC in February, is one of the largest contributions to the outdoor group to date. He raised just over $2.6 million in the 2022 election cycle and spent nearly the same amount in the Democratic primaries, according to FEC records.
Abby Curran Horrell, executive director of House Majority PAC, praised Hoffman and said PAC looks forward to working with him again.
“House Majority PAC is grateful to Reid Hoffman for his support of our shared goals of winning competitive House races, securing a Democratic majority in the House, and protecting our democracy – and we look forward to continuing our work together.” , Horrell said in a statement. CNBC. The PAC Majority Chamber is a so-called hybrid PAC, which can contribute to campaigns and act as a super PAC at the same time.
Hoffman is among a growing group of Democratic tech executives who favor more moderate candidates, according to a Democratic political strategist, who asked not to be named in order to speak freely about private conversations with clients. These donors think more liberal Democrats can’t win in general elections in draw districts and will reduce the party’s chances of controlling Congress, said the strategist, who does not advise Hoffman but has other big donors as tech clients.
“People like Reid have this reaction: These Democrats are useless. They’re killing these moderates. What’s the alternative? You can’t go to the Republicans because they’ve got these people who are completely out of step,” he said. advise. .
David Tamasi, a veteran Republican lobbyist and fundraiser, said in an interview that the money Hoffman is spending on taking on Trump-aligned Republicans might not be enough to keep them out of office in November, with many using the economy as part of their campaign message. .
“You have to be very strategic and have a very good understanding of the dynamics of racing so that the money you put in can be additive and not undone, because $5 a gallon gas communicated relentlessly via earned media will overwhelm everything you put into it,” Tamasi said.
Justice Democrats was formed after the 2016 election by former students and presidential campaign allies of Senator Bernie Sanders. Its sole purpose is to support progressive Democratic candidates. The group has backed members of the so-called Squad, which includes Representatives Ocasio-Cortez; Ayanna Pressley, from Massachusetts; Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota; Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan; Jamal Bowman, from New York; and Cori Bush, of Missouri.
All of these lawmakers are part of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Hoffman-funded Mainstream Democrats PAC took Jessica Cisneroswho lost in the primary for a House seat in Texas, and Nina Turn, an ally of Sanders, who lost in the primary for a House seat in Ohio. Both candidates were backed by the Justice Democrats. Records show the mainstream Democrats’ PAC spent more than $150,000 against Turner.
Mehlhorn, Hoffman’s adviser, said the mainstream Democrats’ PAC is among several groups he sees as a counterweight to Democrats and Republicans whom he calls “extremists.”
“The Mainstream Democrats Project is one of many initiatives designed to help Democrats conquer the center and win elections against Democratic hardliners in the primaries and Republican hardliners in the general election,” he said.
The mainstream Democrats’ PAC is linked to Defending Majority for Israel, a pro-Israel advocacy group that heads a political action committee that spent more than $1 million to oppose Sanders in the 2020 election. according to the archives.
Still, according to people familiar with the matter, Hoffman’s six-figure donation to the Mainstream Democrats PAC and his other contributions so far are just the start of this cycle for the longtime political donor, with more money earmarked to these groups in the coming months. . These people declined to be named in order to speak freely about the private deliberations.
Outside groups backed by Hoffman have so far had mixed results.
OpenSecrets data shows mainstream Democrats’ PAC spent over $750,000 support Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, in the build-up to his first run-off against Cisneros. Cuellar said he is a “pro-life” Democrat and was the only his party lawmaker who voted against a House bill last year that would codify abortion rights protections.
Moderate House Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., saw more than $580,000 from PAC backing him, while his opponent, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, saw just under $200,000 spent against her in the main fight. Schrader, which was endorsed by Biden, recently conceded at McLeod-Skinner.
The House Majority PAC has spent nearly $1 million supporting Carrick Flynn at a primary house in Oregon. Flynn conceded in his race against Oregon State Rep. Andrea Salinas, who was supported by Progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
The Oregon district targeted by Salinas is marked by Cook Political Report as “likely Democratic” and is not expected to be competitive.
In a statement to CNBC, Justice Democrats spokesman Waleed Shahid criticized Hoffman for funding the group opposed to Cisneros and explained that their progressive PAC was working “to align the party with its working-class base. “.
Cisneros conceded in Cuellar last week after asking for a recount. The race was decided by less than 300 votes, according to NBC News.
“Billionaire Reid Hoffman funding an extreme pro-NRA, anti-union, anti-choice Democrat in Henry Cuellar’s candidacy on behalf of ‘mainstream Democrats’ is shameful,” Shahid said in an email. “If the Democratic Party supported managers like Jamaal Bowman, nurses like Cori Bush, bartenders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or human rights lawyers like Jessica Cisneros, then the Justice Democrats wouldn’t have to exist. .”
Separately, Hoffman had preliminary conversations with data and technology experts as they pitched him the concept of funding another data startup, along with the idea of what type of company could help Democrats on voter registration and global analysis in the upcoming election, according to people familiar with the matter.
Hoffman has yet to accept the land, these people explained, after investing nearly $20 million in a Datanonprofit called Alloy during the 2020 election cycle, which later close after the Democratic National Committee decided not to work with that.
The DNC announced in July that it was investing $25 million in new tools to help register voters for the midterm elections, with some of those funds going to what the committee describes as the “largest team technology in the history of the DNC”.
A DNC spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.