Displays of faith
Conceived in January 2013, Ready for Hillary raised $4 million last year. Although it is permitted to raise unlimited amounts of money, it imposed a voluntary $25,000 cap on contributions.
Nevertheless, its haul ranked it among the highest-grossing super PACs in the country, raising roughly the same amount in 2013 that conservative juggernaut American Crossroads did.
Despite the fact that Clinton is neither an official candidate nor is the 2016 election imminent in any sense of the word, Joanne Skillings, a health industry consultant in Maine, told the Center for Public Integrity that she was “willing to take the risk” in order to make a gesture of support.
“I really want to see her succeed,” said Skillings, who gave Ready for Hillary $220 last year.
“Even though I don’t like super PACs, let’s play within the rules,” added Jennie Sweet-Cushman, a political science professor at Chatham University in Pennsylvania. “It is crucial that women do more to support candidates financially.”
A self-identified “long-time supporter of Hillary Clinton,” Sweet-Cushman gave $450 to Ready for Hillary last year in installments of $50 a month, according to FEC records.
Paul Lemieux, the president of a beauty salon in Massachusetts, said he gave $500 to Ready for Hillary in September as a sign of “encouragement” and a “display of faith.”
“I donated more than just a little because I wanted it to hopefully have some effect,” he said, adding that he didn’t realize he was contributing to a super PAC. “I want her to be president.”
The super PAC can already claim financial backers from every U.S. state — although New Yorkers and Californians account for nearly half of the money it raised in 2013, according to figures provided to the Center for Public Integrity by the super PAC.
Residents of New York combined to give just shy of $1 million last year, as did residents of California.
Only in seven states — Alaska, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming — did fewer than 100 people donate to Ready for Hillary last year.
In all, Ready for Hillary boasted more than 33,600 donors in 2013 — who gave an average of about $120, according to figures provided by the super PAC.
Federal campaign finance records show that about 25 percent of the $4 million Ready for Hillary raised last year came from donors who gave $200 or less.
“We knew there was tremendous grassroots enthusiasm for a potential Hillary Clinton candidacy and that people were looking for a vehicle to express that support,” said Ready for Hillary spokesman Seth Bringman.
Meanwhile, about 37 percent came from five-dozen donors who hit the self-imposed ceiling of $25,000.
Billionaire investor George Soros*, Salesforce.Com CEO Marc Benioff and philanthropist Susie Tompkins Buell — who is a founding co-chair of the Ready for Hillary finance council — all ranked among the Democratic bigwigs who have already cut checks at the $25,000 level.