Only 1 Donor Threatening To Cut Off Sinema Over Filibuster Lives in Arizona

Letter from 70 'donors' includes only 19 who gave to Sinema in 2018, investigation finds

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) / Getty Images
January 21, 2022

Only one out of a group of 70 Democratic donors who signed a letter threatening to cut off Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) over her refusal to kill the filibuster lives in Arizona, according to a Washington Free Beacon investigation.

Politico reported on Thursday that a group of 70 Democratic donors wrote to Sinema saying it would end all spending for Sinema unless she went along with President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D., N.Y.) scheme to end the filibuster so that their party can pass federal election reform bills.

The problem: Only 19 of the individuals who signed the letter to Sinema have itemized donations to her campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission. Of the 19 signatories who donated to Sinema, only 6 gave the maximum $5,400 allowed by federal law. None of those max donors lived in Arizona. The single Arizona signatory who donated gave just $250.

The donation history of the letter's authors underscores the difficulty Democrats face in pushing Sinema to fall into line with their agenda. Despite pressure from a variety of activist groups and colleagues, Sinema has repeatedly insisted that Arizonans did not elect her to eliminate safeguards for minority parties in the Senate and that her constituents instead demand bipartisanship when passing legislation. Sinema has given no sign that she can be pressured to change her stance.

"Senators of both parties have offered ideas—including some that would earn my support—to make this body more productive, more deliberative, and more responsive to Americans' needs," Sinema said after her vote. "I remain committed to working with colleagues in both parties to protect and strengthen American democracy and seek lasting solutions for the Americans we serve."

In the letter, the authors wrote, "Some of us gave the maximum allowable contribution to your 2018 campaign in the belief that, among other things, you would protect our country from the grave authoritarian threat that even then confronted us and is now more acute," and asked that Sinema return their donations if she didn't vote to eliminate the filibuster to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

The total sum of itemized direct donations to Sinema by the letter signatures is $47,887, a drop in the bucket compared with the over $22 million she raised during her election. Over 59 percent of the money she raised—more than $13 million—came from large individual donations.

A Gallup survey from December 2021 found that just 1 percent of Americans said "election reform" was the most important problem facing the country. A CBS poll released earlier this month found that only 42 percent of Americans say passing a voting rights bill is "very important." Thirty-one percent of respondents, meanwhile, said they do not know enough about the filibuster to have a position. Despite those findings, Democrats have committed to pushing through federal election reform without a filibuster-proof majority.

The reason for the Democrats' push on voting rights when few Americans list it as their most pressing concern remains somewhat of a mystery, although reporting has shed light on a potential explanation. Puck revealed that some of the largest Democratic donors have demanded that party leaders pressure lawmakers such as Sinema and Joe Manchin (W. Va.) to drop their opposition to eliminating the filibuster.

Emily's List and NARAL, two pro-abortion groups that back female Democrats, announced on Thursday that they would no longer support Sinema in future elections. So far one Arizona Democrat, Rep. Ruben Gallego, a man, has said he is considering mounting a 2024 primary challenge against Sinema.