Donor profile: John Childs

Quick stats on the biggest financial backers of Election 2012

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Ranking: 23

Total contributions to super PACs: $4.2 million*

Notable federal hard and soft money and 527 contributions:

  • $30,800 to the Republican National Committee
  • $30,400 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee
  • $25,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee
  • $5,000 to former 2012 presidential candidate Rick Perry

Notable state-level contributions:

  • $100,000 to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker during the recall election
  • $50,000 to the Indiana gubernatorial campaign of Republican Rep. Mike Pence

Corporate name: J.W. Childs Associates

Corporate subsidiaries: None found

Total spent on lobbying (2007-2012): None found

Biography:

John Childs, 70, is CEO and board chairman of J.W. Childs Associates, a private equity firm based in Boston. He spends much of his time in Florida, where he has a home in Vero Beach.

Childs is a pioneer of the leveraged buyout, in which a typically public company is paid for with borrowed money and taken private, often to the detriment of its workers. He mastered these transaction at Thomas H. Lee Company, one of the leaders in leveraged buyouts, in the late-1980s to mid-1990s. He spearheaded what is considered one of the most successful leveraged buyout in history with THL’s acquisition of Snapple, which it bought for $135 million and flipped for $1.7 billion, according to Boston Magazine.

In 1995, Childs founded his “private equity” firm, the new name for leveraged buyout specialists. J.W. Childs has overseen buyouts of NutraSweet, Sunny Delight Beverages Co. and Brookstone, according to the firm’s website.

Before THL, Childs spent 17 years as an executive at Prudential Insurance Company of America, where he became senior managing director and oversaw Prudential’s $77 billion fixed income portfolio, including investments in leveraged buyouts, his profile says.

Boston Magazine says Childs is known as the “Republican ATM” for his generous contributions to Republican causes — nearly $3.7 million to federal candidates since 2008.

Childs is on the board of directors of Club for Growth, a free-market organization with several iterations. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Club for Growth’s nonprofit and super PAC, Club for Growth Action, have spent more than $20 million this election cycle on ads designed to aid numerous tea party-aligned candidates.

Childs supports wetlands conservation, volunteering as president of Wetlands Americas Trust, which provides the financial support for Ducks Unlimited, a Florida-based nonprofit that conserves and restores wetland habitat for waterfowl.

Last updated: Jan. 30, 2013

*2011-2012 election cycle. Source: Center for Responsive Politics and Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission records. Totals include contributions from individuals, family members and corporations that are controlled by the individual super donor.