The Nebraska governor race pits two key billionaires against each other. On the Democrat ticket we have Chuck Hasselbrook and on the Republican ticket we have Pete Ricketts. The former is currently Chair of the Board of the USDA North Central Region Rural Development Center. The latter is the son of John Joseph (Joe) Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (NYSE:AMTD).
Buffett family: Billionaires backing political candidates
At first glance, it seems Ricketts has an unfair advantage thanks to his prominent family ties, but Hasselbrook also has an advantage with the Buffett family in their corner. Susan Alice Buffett, the daughter of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B)’s CEO Warren Buffett, is using her leadership position to help Hasselbrook win the race. Sussan is Hassebrook’s honorary campaign co-Chairman. Her father also contributed to the nominee’s campaign with a donation of $100,000. This makes Hasselbrook one of the most funded Democratic candidates running for governor in more than 10 years.
The contributions for both Nebraska government candidates serves as an example of how billionaires are influencing elections. These roles come from the failure to regulate spending and court rulings from four years ago that would allow unlimited spending on politics.
Campaign spending on politics
Joe Ricketts launched a PAC called Ending Spending Action Fund which he co-operates with his son Todd Ricketts. This committee has since become the third largest spender that works on behalf of Republicans. However, this PAC does not contribute to the Nebraska’s campaign. Instead, Republican donors David Koch, Foster Friess, Paul Singer, and other members of the Ricketts family.
This is not the first time Warren Buffet contributed financially to politicians. He is a key contributor for many Democrat candidates, he also endorsed Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. He attended a large fundraiser for Obama back in 2008 as well as headlined fundraisers for the president’s re-election in 2012.