Dem Rep Decries Wealthy Donors Corrupting Politics, Accepts Max Donation From Billionaire

The billionaire was named in an FBI investigation subpoena earlier this year

Rep. Ted Deutch (D., Fla.) / Getty Images
October 11, 2019

Rep. Ted Deutch (D., Fla.) has railed against wealthy donors corrupting elections over the last couple years, but he received $5,600 from liberal billionaire Donald Sussman in September.

Deutch received two $2,800 donations from Sussman, a billionaire hedge fund manager, on Sept. 3, maxing out the legal amount an individual donor can give a congressional campaign each election cycle. The donation came one year after Deutch criticized the influence that billionaires have in politics. The Florida Democrat said the Constitution is "sacred" and "isn’t something that should be up for sale or be changed at will by billionaires that can buy elections."

The Deutch campaign did not respond to a request for comment about the donation.

In 2017, Deutch joined other congressional Democrats to reintroduce the Democracy for All Amendment, which would "help to reverse the concentration of political influence held by large corporations and the wealthiest Americans capable of spending millions of dollars in American elections."

"The Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision reserved meaningful political participation for the rich and wealthy special interests," said Deutch. "At every turn and on nearly every issue, from gun safety to climate change, unlimited political spending ensures that Congress is tuned in to the needs of special interests and tunes out the voices of the American people. It’s time to get money out of politics to guard our elections against a dangerous threat that erodes the faith of the American people in our democratic institutions."

Deutch also took $5,400 from Sussman in 2017 and $2,700 in 2016.

End Citizens United, a PAC focused on getting big money out of politics and advancing campaign finance reform, has repeatedly praised Deutch on Twitter for his leadership. The PAC, which did not return a request for comment, donated $1,000 to his campaign in September.

Sussman has donated tens of millions of dollars to Democratic candidates, as well as super PACs that shield the identities of their donors. He made several multimillion-dollar donations to the Priorities USA super PAC and Senate Majority PAC. He has also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic National Committee over multiple election cycles.

Sussman's political fundraising has attracted legal attention. In May, a federal grand jury in Tallahassee issued at least one subpoena to investigate Andrew Gillum, the former Tallahassee mayor and failed gubernatorial candidate. Sussman, who donated $1.5 million to Gillum's campaign, was also named in the subpoena, according to the Tampa Bay Times.