Dave McCormick, a wealthy former hedge fund executive and the Republican Party of Pennsylvania’s endorsed candidate to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in November, acknowledged in January that he’s spending half of his time outside Pennsylvania trying to raise campaign funds from rich megadonors. The super PAC working to elect him reported days later that it has received nearly $18 million, mostly from out-of-state billionaires.
At an event last year, McCormick said rich business executives are not greedy price gougers and endorsed cutting their taxes permanently. “We need to make this a more business-friendly commonwealth and more business-friendly country,” he said, according to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. “We need to make permanent the Tax [Cuts] and Jobs Act.”
That 2017 tax law, signed by President Donald Trump, raised taxes for 10 million families while slashing tax rates for the wealthiest individuals, such as McCormick and his campaign backers, from 39.6% to 37%. Those provisions are set to expire in 2025; the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that making them permanent would add $3.5 trillion to the budget deficit through 2033.
McCormick has also endorsed cuts to safety programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. “I don’t think my kids are going to be able to live under the same entitlements that all of us that are here,” he said at a March 2022 campaign event, according to the Daily Beast. “We have to face that reality and do two things at the same time: keep our promises to people we made them to, and change our entitlements in a way that are defensible and fundable into the future.”
McCormick is running again after narrowly losing the Republican primary for Pennsylvania’s other Senate seat to television personality Mehmet Oz in 2022. In both races, he has come under fire for residing primarily in Connecticut.
“I’m spending half my time with donors,” McCormick told Dartmouth College students in New Hampshire on Jan. 22, according to audio posted by the progressive media site Heartland Signal. “I’m nationalizing the race. if you vote for me you’re voting for winning the Senate, blah blah blah. So I’m everywhere, prospecting mostly with really wealthy people, where you will all be in 20 years, or many of you. And I’m also spending half my time in Pennsylvania, where the median income is $55,000 to $60,000.”
In 2023, his campaign raised $4.5 million. Keystone Renewal PAC, which calls itself “a federal Super PAC working to support Dave McCormick’s candidacy for U.S. Senate,” received more than $17.9 million from just 34 unique donors.
The Pennsylvania Independent reached out to some of the biggest donors to the Keystone Renewal PAC to ask about their donations.
Billionaire Ken Griffin, CEO of Florida-based hedge fund firm Citadel, which profits from investments in U.S. treasuries, was its biggest benefactor with a $10 million donation. “The critical problem is entitlement reform, and if taxes even have to go up to get an entitlement deal done, that still solves the vast majority of the issue,” Griffin told Politico in 2012.
In October 2020, Institutional Investor reported that in remarks during a private event in New York, Griffin had argued for lower tax rates for the wealthiest individuals: “When taxes are at 39 percent, you’re not going to sell your winners. You’re going to stay in those positions longer than you otherwise would have. That means there’s less capital flowing from those companies to the next new idea. That’s heartbreaking.”
In an emailed statement, Griffin said: “David [McCormick] is passionate about America and I have long admired his dedication to our nation, starting from his days at West Point and later serving in the Gulf War to holding senior positions in our government. He is also a proven business leader who understands what it takes to create jobs and grow a company, having successfully led Bridgewater as CEO. America will be well served if talented patriots and leaders like David are elected to serve in Congress.” Griffin did not respond to questions about cuts to taxes and safety net programs.
Others did not immediately respond to inquiries.
Billionaire Paul Singer, president of the Florida-based investment firm Elliott Management, contributed $2 million. In a 2011 letter quoted by the New York Times, he described Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security as the “unpayable Big Three” and urged cuts to the programs instead of tax increases to fund them.
The following year, in a confidential report to investors obtained by Fortune, Singer blasted those who vilify the wealthiest 1% of earners and said they should not be punished for their success with more tax burden. “Resentment is not morally superior to earning money,” he wrote.
Ken Langone, the New York-based billionaire co-founder of Home Depot and CEO of the investment firm Invemed Associates, gave the super PAC $500,000.
“We need a complete reevaluation of entitlements,” he told CNN in 2023, objecting to rich individuals receiving Social Security payments. “What the hell is a guy like me [doing] getting $3,500 a month from the government? That’s outrageous. I shouldn’t get a nickel.”
In a 2021 appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) debated Langone, explaining to him that the entire idea of Social Security was that everyone would pay in and everyone would receive retirement funds. “It’s structured as an insurance policy,” she said. “It’s not somebody’s welfare. It’s not somebody’s charity. It was an agreement that every employee in the country who is eligible for Social Security paid into and gets a return at the backend.”
In 2014, Langone told Politico that he disagreed with calls for the wealthiest 1% to contribute more in taxes. “I hope it’s not working,” he said. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”