$5,402,259: Value of 21,635 shares of Baidu Inc. — a Chinese technology behemoth with reported ties to China’s Communist Party — that California physician Karla Jurvetson donated to Women Vote!, the super PAC branch of abortion rights group Emily’s List.
Women Vote! sold the Baidu Inc. stock on May 10, according to FEC records. The money Women Vote! earned from the stock sale, which occurred as trade and economic tensions between the United States and China were rapidly escalating, represents more than half the money the Democrat-backing super PAC collected during May.
“We cleared the donation through our lawyers,” Emily’s List press secretary Alexandra De Luca told the Center for Public Integrity. “They didn’t see a problem as it’s a publicly traded company” on the NASDAQ exchange.
One elections watchdog doesn’t consider the transaction problematic.
“The super PAC may feel a debt of gratitude to Karla, not to Baidu,” said Brendan Fischer, director of federal and FEC reform at the Campaign Legal Center. “The timing of the donation and selling of the shares was close. One scenario that might have raised eyebrows: If the group held on to the shares, leaving the financial interests of the super PAC tied up with the financial success of the company. But it doesn’t seem like that was at play here.”
Karla Jurvetson is the former wife of venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, who in the past three years has been accused of sexual harassment — he denies the accusations — and has left the firm he helped found.
Women Vote! most recently spent $2.4 million on mailers and media buys to support 29-year-old Sara Jacobs, a congressional candidate who lost in California’s 49th District primary. It’s also spent $247,000 on mailers backing Democrat Madeleine Dean in her race to represent Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District. Women Vote! also spent $264,000 to support Democratic candidate Cindy Axne in Iowa’s 3rd District congressional race and $310,000 to back Katherine Porter in California’s 45th Congressional District.
$2 million: Amount liberal megadonor and Paloma Partners president Donald Sussman donated to Women Vote! in late May.
2: Number of registered federal lobbyists — including one who advocates for the private prison industry — that raised money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in May. Jessica Straus, former finance director for the campaign committees of Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Barbara Boxer and now director of government affairs at Dish Network, raised $72,250. Richard Sullivan, a lobbyist with State Federal Strategies and former Democratic National Committee finance director, raised $24,400. Sullivan currently lobbies for several companies, including the GEO Group, which specializes in private prisons and operates several ICE detention facilities. In general, detention facilities have been under greater scrutiny because of a government policy — Trump amended it Wednesday amid withering criticism — that’s resulted in the separation of immigrant families suspected of illegally entering the United States. The 2016 Democratic Party platform said Democrats would “fight to end federal, state, and municipal contracts with for-profit private prisons and private detention centers.”
$60,500: Value of donations in May from the PAC of private prison company GEO Group to various political committees. Among its recipients: $25,000 to Protect the House, which benefits Republican House candidates, and $15,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. GEO Group’s PAC backed dozens of federal and state candidates including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas ($5,000); Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo. ($2,500); and Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M ($2,500).
$14,000: Money donated in May by the Corrections Corporation of America PAC to federal political committees. This PAC is run by CoreCivic, another company that operates ICE detention centers. It contributed $5,000 to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s Majority Committee PAC and $2,500 to Help America’s Leaders PAC, which is led by Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky. CoreCivic has also supported several Republican candidates campaign committees directly, including Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind.; Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. and Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas.