Pro-lesbian super PAC founder and Obama bundler named to top arts post

Laura Ricketts, co-owner of Chicago Cubs, raised more than $750,000 for Obama's 2012 campaign

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President Barack Obama has named Laura Ricketts, a major Democratic Party donor and one of the his top campaign fundraisers, to be a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., the White House announced Thursday.

Records released by the Obama campaign last year indicate that Ricketts, a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, raised at least $500,000 for the president’s re-election efforts. Internal campaign documents published by the New York Times put that figure at more than $750,000.

Ahead of the 2012 election, Ricketts, who is openly gay, also helped launch a hybrid super PAC called LPAC dedicated to “making a true impact for lesbians in politics.”

As a hybrid super PAC, LPAC can collect unlimited donations to produce political advertisements. It can also accept limited donations to directly donate to federal candidates.

LPAC raised more than $1 million between its creation in April 2012 and June 2013, the period covered in its most recent campaign finance filing with the Federal Election Commission. Of this amount, about 30 percent has come from Ricketts herself, including $50,000 contributed in 2013.

This year, LPAC has supported the election of Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor’s race, the election of Democrat Annise Parker, a lesbian, to be the mayor of Houston and the enactment of marriage equality legislation in Illinois, among other activities.

Ricketts herself has also donated an additional $75,000 this year to Democratic candidates and groups, including $32,400 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and $30,000 to the Democratic National Committee, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of FEC records.

The Kennedy Center position would not be Ricketts’ first official perk for her talents and work in support of the president. Records show she has visited the White House about a dozen times since Obama took office in 2009, including multiple Christmas holiday receptions and an inaugural reception earlier this year.

She joins several other Obama bundlers on the Kennedy Center board, including UnitedHealth Group executive Anthony Welters, television journalist and entrepreneur Giselle Fernandez and Chicago media mogul Fred Eychaner. Kennedy Center trustees are not paid.

Notably, Ricketts’ political giving stands in stark contrast to that of her father, Joe Ricketts, the founder of the Omaha-based online brokerage firm TD Ameritrade.

The elder Ricketts ranked as one of the top GOP super donors during the 2012 election, giving more than $13 million to super PACs, including his Ending Spending Action Fund. Just three other Republican super donors gave more to super PACs: Bob Perry, Harold Simmons and Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.

Ricketts’ Ending Spending Action Fund, and its related “social welfare”’ nonprofit, support candidates “who favor enhancing free enterprise, reducing the size of government and balancing our nation's budget.”