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Buchanan pulls in big Q2 haul as Ways and Means race heats up

Floridian gets donations from major tax firms, medical industry and billionaire Bill Gates

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., during a 2020 House Ways and Means Committee hearing.
Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., during a 2020 House Ways and Means Committee hearing. (Tom Williams, CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Vern Buchanan led second-quarter fundraising among GOP hopefuls for the party’s top spot on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, raking in more than $860,000 in contributions.

The Florida Republican drew donations from major tax firms, companies across the health care and medical industries, mega billionaire Bill Gates and more during the three-month span from April through June, according to his latest Federal Election Commission filing.

Missouri Rep. Jason Smith, who’s also seeking the Ways and Means spot, brought in more than $430,000. Another contender, Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska, raised almost $330,000 according to his second quarter filing and about $57,500 more in a pre-primary filing covering early April.

Buchanan’s second-quarter haul means he’s raised more than $3.5 million during the campaign cycle, as of the end of June, compared to Jason Smith’s $2.1 million and Adrian Smith’s $1.2 million.

The contributions to the lawmakers’ campaign committees don’t include other fundraising vehicles for the three members, such as their leadership PACs.

The trio are aiming to succeed Ways and Means ranking member Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, when he retires at the end of this Congress. If Republicans win the House, it would make one of the three the committee’s chair.

Given the panel’s wide-ranging jurisdiction over measures that impact federal revenue from tax and trade to health care and Social Security, it’s a prime job and key fundraising seat for the party. Other factors are important in the race as well, such as relationships with fellow members, but fundraising typically plays a role.

Buchanan’s second-quarter tally included donations from executives of health care and nursing home companies, doctors and other health-related businesses from Florida and beyond, likely reflecting his recent rise to ranking member on Ways and Means’ Health Subcommittee. Among them were more than $22,000 from a corporate PAC and executives of Dallas-based Axxess, a home health technology company.

More than $30,000 came from a PAC and employees of Ryan LLC, a Dallas-based tax services firm.

Some of Buchanan’s top corporate PAC donors this quarter that didn’t give to Jason or Adrian Smith during the three-month span include audit and tax group Grant Thornton, electric utility trade group the Edison Electric Institute, the American Council of Life Insurers, financial firm TIAA, Home Depot, the American Health Care Association, the American Hotel and Lodging Association and international auto dealer group, the Automotive Free International Trade PAC.

Buchanan also saw contributions from Microsoft founder Bill Gates and billionaire hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb of Third Point LLC, who each maxed out their donations by totaling $5,800 during the quarter, consisting of equal-sized checks for both primary and general election campaigns.

As of Monday, Gates was the world’s fifth-richest man with a net worth of over $102 billion, according to Forbes’ “real-time billionaires” tracking tool. Loeb was worth $4.2 billion.

Jay Faison, founder of the ClearPath Foundation, which advocates for clean energy policies with “conservative principles,” also gave only to Buchanan among the three, contributing $5,800.

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