Skip to Content

Opinion: The real price tag for Trump’s billionaires’ banquet

Opinion by Dean Obeidallah

(CNN) — This weekend, some 100 wealthy people were on the guest list for an exclusive fundraising event at the ritzy Palm Beach, Florida, home of billionaire investor John Paulson.

The soirée reportedly raised more than $50 million for former President Donald Trump’s 2024 White House campaign. Trump’s well-heeled backers paid $250,000 per person for those serving on the “host committee” to $824,600 per person to serve as a “chairman.” Those contributing at the top level were allowed to be seated at Trump’s table during dinner.

In more normal times, there would be nothing particularly remarkable about this kind of high-priced fundraiser. Trump, however, is anything but a conventional Republican candidate. After all, he attempted a coup to remain in power despite losing the 2020 election for which he now faces numerous felony charges.

Trump’s deep-pocketed and highly credentialed donors, including Paulson, doubtless are fully aware of his record, but nevertheless see fit to donate massive sums of money to a man who attempted to destroy the peaceful transfer of power that stands at the heart of our democracy.

Paulson and the other wealthy donors who attended Saturday night’s event must surely be aware that Trump sat idly by, watching on television as the January 6 attacks unfolded — ignoring requests that he call off his supporters for more than three hours and even turning a deaf ear to his aides and one of his family members.

They may also know that since leaving the White House, Trump has celebrated the January 6 attackers, even starting many of his campaign rallies by playing a recording sung by the “J6 Prison Choir.” They might have heard that he has vowed to pardon those convicted of crimes related to the siege of the Capitol, which in some cases included assaulting police officers.

The effort to upend our democracy also involved violent groups like the right-wing, extremist Proud Boys, the leader of which has been convicted of seditious conspiracy in connection with his role in seeking to interfere with the peaceful handover of power on January 6.

None of that seems to have troubled these rich people — at least not enough to get them to forgo making massive donations to Trump’s presidential campaign. Their fundraiser came a little over a week after Democrats, including former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, held a star-studded fundraising event for incumbent President Joe Biden that raked in some $25 million.

If they’ve been paying attention, the wealthy donors at Saturday night’s fundraiser for Trump — who included hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, oil tycoon Harold Hamm and casino mogul Steve Wynn — might also be aware that in December, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump had been “engaged in an insurrection.” And even though the US Supreme Court ultimately determined that Trump could remain on the 2024 ballot in Colorado, it did not overrule the state’s high court on the issue of Trump having taken part in an “insurrection.”

Trump’s donors might even have heard reports about the former president channeling Adolf Hitler by declaring that immigrants are “poisoning the blood” of our nation, his vow to be a “dictator” on the first day of his presidency and his repeated praise of autocrats. Presumably, if they found any of this alarming, they would not have donated at least a quarter of a million dollars per person to help Trump take back the White House.

To put it bluntly, I don’t put the sophisticated, ultra-wealthy people who attended this weekend’s campaign fundraiser in the same category as average Americans who have been conned time and again by Trump’s repeated lies that the 2020 election was “rigged.” I suspect that this elite group of backers knows exactly what is going on with the former president.

It seems more than plausible that Paulson had at least some second thoughts about Trump in 2024. In fact, earlier in the 2024 campaign, Paulson raised funds for Trump’s GOP primary opponent Ron DeSantis despite having made big donations to Trump in 2016 and 2020.

But all of that changed once it became clear that Trump would become the GOP’s presidential nominee. A few weeks ago, Paulson told CNN, during a discussion ahead of Saturday’s fundraiser, that he was “pleased to support President Trump in his re-election efforts.” He added, “His policies on the economy, energy, immigration and foreign policy will be very beneficial for the country.”

Paulson left out any mention of the Trump tax cut enacted in 2017, which greatly helped the very wealthy set, which Paulson and the others at Saturday’s dinner are privileged to be part of.

Is that why these very rich people are now turning a blind eye to the threat that Trump poses to the rule of law in our country? Are they hoping he’ll enact more policies that could fatten their wallets? Perhaps they have fully grasped the danger Trump poses to our republic, but have decided they are on board with him all the same.

Or perhaps they believe they can benefit as wealthy friends of an autocratic leader. After all, in Hungary led by Trump’s ally Viktor Orban, his inner circle has profited under his leadership with the funneling of contracts. Of course, the same can be said of Russia under Vladimir Putin, where the oligarchs who gave him their support became even wealthier — until running afoul of him, when some were “forced into exile or died in suspicious circumstances.”

A short time after the January 6 attack, Chuck Collins, director of the Project on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, was unstinting in his criticism of Trump’s uber-wealthy backers. “They enabled Donald Trump. They bankrolled his campaigns,” he told the progressive news site Common Dreams. “And they cheered as Trump cut their taxes, swept away regulations that pinched their profits, and packed the courts with judges eager to wink at their transgressions.”

Liz Cheney — the conservative former US Representative from Wyoming and onetime Republican member of the House GOP leadership — warned Americans recently that with Trump’s second rise to power we are “sleepwalking into dictatorship.” If he in fact regains power, we can blame, among others, these short-sighted, wealthy enablers who helped underwrite Trump’s campaign. They undoubtedly know better, but appear to care more about helping their bottom line than protecting our democracy.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN-Opinion

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

CNN Newsource


KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content