Fact Check

Super PACs for Trump and RFK Jr. Share Same Top Donor?

The PACs at issue are Make America Great Again Inc. and American Values Inc.

Published March 28, 2024

 (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Image Via Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Claim:
The top donor to a major super PAC supporting Donald Trump for president in 2024 is also the top donor to the super PAC supporting Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for president.

On March 27, 2024, the claim that super PACs for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. share a top donor went viral, thanks in part to a February 2024 story by Newsweek and its March 2024 promotion by former CBS News anchor Dan Rather on Facebook:

Super PACs, according to the Federal Election Commission, "are committees that may receive unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor unions and other PACs for the purpose of financing independent expenditures and other independent political activity" that is not coordinated with a political campaign. 

The claim of funding ties between PACs supporting these two campaigns also has appeared on at least one billboard paid for by the Democratic National Convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in February 2024:

This claim is true, based on Snopes' analysis of FEC filings. As shown in those billboards and reported in Newsweek, the donor in question is Timothy Mellon, an heir to the Mellon banking fortune. The two super PACs at issue are the Trump-aligned Make America Great Again Inc., and the Kennedy-aligned American Values PAC, Newsweek reported:  

Timothy Mellon, heir to the Mellon banking fortune, donated $5 million to the Trump-aligned MAGA Inc. fundraising attempts in January, as well $5 million to a Super PAC supporting the Democrat-turned-independent's presidential bid the same month, Federal Election Commission (FEC) listings reveal. …

Mellon gave American Values a total of $15 million in 2023, according to FEC filings, covering a period when Kennedy Jr. ran as a Democratic and independent presidential candidate. The billionaire was also found to have donated $10 million to the Trump-aligned MAGA Inc. in the second half of last year, making him the largest contributor to both Super PACs.

While a different PAC, Americans for Prosperity Inc., has spent more money than MAGA Inc. supporting Trump or opposing his competitors, that group is not funded by individual donors. In terms of individual donors, MAGA Inc. is the most significant pro-Trump super PAC, and its most significant donor was indeed Mellon. From August 2023 to January 2024 he donated $10 million to MAGA Inc., according to FEC filings. 

American Values, at the time of this reporting, is the only pro-Kennedy super PAC listed in FEC records. Snopes discussed this group in our February 2024 investigation of RFK Jr. As reported by Newsweek and confirmed by FEC filings, Mellon is also the most significant donor to this PAC as well. In fact, from April 2023 to January 2024, Mellon donated $20 million to American Values, according to those records

Mellon has funded other PACs during the 2024 election cycle. In March 2023, he donated $1 million to "Fair Courts America," which, according to its website, tracks "the woke mob's activity" and "fight[s] for free & fair courts at every level of our government." He has made several donations to the Congressional Leadership Fund, as well, which is described on its website as "the super PAC dedicated to electing Republicans to the House of Representatives."

Because Mellon is the top donor to both MAGA Inc. and American Values at the time of this reporting, the claim is rated "True."

 

Sources

"As Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Campaigns in Grand Rapids, Billboard..." Getty Images, 9 Feb. 2024, https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/as-robert-f-kennedy-jr-campaigns-in-grand-rapids-billboard-news-photo/1991170091.

Brown, Abram. "175 Years Later, The Mellons Have Never Been Richer. How'd They Do It?" Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/abrambrown/2014/07/08/175-years-later-the-mellons-have-never-been-richer-howd-they-do-it/. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

"Browse Individual Contributions." FEC.Gov, https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

"Browse Receipts." FEC.Gov, https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

"Congressional Leadership Fund." Congressional Leadership Fund, 28 Mar. 2024, https://congressionalleadershipfund.org/.

"Fair Courts America - Home | Restore America's Courts." Fair Courts America, http://faircourtsamerica.org/. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

"KENNEDY, ROBERT F JR. - Candidate Overview." FEC.Gov, https://www.fec.gov/data/candidate/P40011793/. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

Palmer, Ewan. "Donald Trump and RFK Jr Have the Same Largest Donor." Newsweek, 22 Feb. 2024, https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-rfk-donations-timothy-mellon-fec-1872315.

"Political Action Committees (PACs)." FEC.Gov, https://www.fec.gov/press/resources-journalists/political-action-committees-pacs/. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

"TRUMP, DONALD J. - Candidate Overview." FEC.Gov, https://www.fec.gov/data/candidate/P80001571/. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.