RI’s richest man gives to Chafee, Taveras, LoughlinOctober 4th, 2010 at 11:35 am by Ted Nesi under News and Politics
Jonathan Nelson, founder of the powerhouse leveraged-buyout firm Providence Equity Partners, is #306 on this year’s Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans. Nelson and Hope Hill van Beuren, the 76-year-old Campbell Soup Co. heiress who lives in Middletown, were the only two Rhode Islanders on it. (She was #365.)
A quick check of campaign finance records shows Nelson has given $1,000 – the maximum annual contribution allowed on the state level – to two candidates during this election cycle: Lincoln Chafee, who is running for governor as an independent, and Angel Taveras, who won the Democratic nomination for mayor of Providence last month.
Nelson donated $1,000 to Chafee in May 2009 and another $1,000 in January. He and his wife, Judy, also gave Taveras $1,000 each in August. Previous local recipients of Nelson’s largesse include Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri and former Democratic Secretary of State Matt Brown.
One candidate who didn’t wind up winning Nelson’s financial support was Providence Mayor David Cicilline, now the Democratic candidate to succeed U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy in Congress.
Nelson gave Cicilline $1,000 in January 2009, but Cicilline refunded the money early this year when he became a candidate for Congress, asking his supporters to give to his congressional campaign instead.
Thanks but no thanks, Nelson appears to have said. Instead, he opted to donate $2,400 – the maximum allowed on the federal level – to Cicilline’s Republican opponent, state Rep. John Loughlin.
Outside Rhode Island, though, Nelson’s federal donations have been bipartisan, with recent recipients including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif.; U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Kendrick Meek, a Democrat and U.S. Senate candidate in Florida; and U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, who lost his party’s nomination over the summer. He also gave to two Republican political action committees.
As for Hope Hill van Beuren, she and her family do not appear to have made any recent political donations on the state level, but her husband John gave Loughlin $1,000 in June. In the past the family has given frequently to U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.
Hope van Beuren also gave $2,000 to Hillary Clinton’s Republican U.S. Senate opponent in New York, Rick Lazio, back in 2000, and she has supported the Republican National Committee, as well.
Update: Honorary Nesi’s Notes editor Bill Hamilton, who covers Providence Equity for PBN, writes in to point out that the firm’s top executives have given to both Cicilline and Loughlin, though the Republican still has the edge.
Nelson and two others have given a combined $7,200 to Loughlin, while Cicilline has received $5,500 from a pair of executives there. ProvEq partner Paul Salem hedged his bets, giving Cicilline $2,400 for the primary and another $2,400 for the general election, while sending $2,400 to Loughlin for the general, too.
(image credit: CharlieRose.com)