Tech Billionaire Larry Ellison’s Record Political Giving Funds Election Deniers In Midterms

Tech Billionaire Larry Ellison’s Record Political Giving Funds Election Deniers In Midterms

Oracle’s cofounder is bankrolling a super PAC that is spending millions to support four prominent Senate candidates who have cast doubt on the 2020 presidential election results.

By Matt Durot


In early 2020, at the start of the pandemic, Larry Ellison told Forbes he would support any president currently holding the office. After all, “we only have one president at a time,” he explained. Two years later, he found himself in the headlines when stories emerged that he had joined a November 2020 conference call with Sean Hannity and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) to discuss ways to overturn Donald Trump’s election loss. Now, the Oracle cofounder and chairman is putting millions of dollars behind candidates who have cast doubt on the election.

The seventh richest person in the world, worth nearly $86 billion, Ellison hasn’t directly funded any November midterm candidates, according to Federal Election Commission records, which makes some sense given the $2,900 limit on how much any individual can give directly to a campaign. Instead, Ellison is putting his dough into a super PAC, an entity that can accept unlimited sums. So far, Ellison has reported giving $20 million to Opportunity Matters, accounting for 78% of all the money the Tim Scott (R-South Carolina)-aligned super PAC has raised this cycle. It’s the most Ellison has ever given to any political action committee. It’s also the most he’s spent during any federal election cycle, up from a previous high of $7.3 million in 2020, which included $5 million to Opportunity Matters. Forbes tried to reach Ellison for comment but didn’t get a response.

Flush with Ellison’s cash, the PAC has spent $9.9 million supporting 19 Republican candidates for the House and Senate, as well as $50,000 attacking one of their opponents: Democratic Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock. Of the $9.9 million, $6.1 million went toward four candidates running in a few of the Senate’s closest races, each of whom appear to have cast doubt on the legitimacy of President Biden’s election.

Georgia Senator Warnock’s opponent, former football star Herschel Walker, has repeatedly peddled conspiracy theories about the election on Twitter and Fox News. And, despite being fired by Trump on season two of The Celebrity Apprentice, Walker defended his former “boss” and current endorser in a May television interview on Atlanta’s Fox affiliate, WAGA-TV, stating that “I’ve never heard President Trump say that” the election was stolen. From June to September, Opportunity Matters spent $1.9 million supporting Walker. Since then, the pro-life candidate has come under fire, including from his own son, for allegedly paying for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion nearly a decade ago and for allegedly abusing his ex-wife. Walker denied the former allegation, but he hasn’t directly admitted or denied the latter, telling ABC News in 2008 that he “probably did it” but couldn’t remember due to his diagnosis with dissociative identity disorder.

North Carolina Representative Ted Budd received $1.5 million of support from Opportunity Matters in August and September, just months after winning the primary with Trump’s endorsement. Budd, one of 147 Republicans who objected to certifying President Biden’s election, is seeking to replace retiring GOP Senator Richard Burr, who was censured by his party for voting to impeach Trump after the 2021 riot on the U.S. Capitol. (Burr previously announced that he would retire after his 2016 election.)

Adam Laxalt, a former attorney general of Nevada who chaired Trump’s campaign in the state during the 2020 election, received $1.4 million of support from Opportunity Matters from June to September for his Senate run in the Silver State. When Trump lost Nevada in November 2020, Laxalt denied the result and supported lawsuits seeking to reverse Biden’s victory. Two months later, the communications director of Laxalt’s Senate campaign reportedly attended the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” protest in Washington, D.C.

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The candidate appears to have changed his tune since then. A spokesperson told Forbes that “Adam Laxalt has acknowledged that Joe Biden is president multiple times, and he has never filed any lawsuit aimed at overturning an election.” That’s a change from the stance he took after the 2020 election. When the Trump campaign announced a lawsuit against the state’s Democratic electors, alleging that “Donald Trump won the state of Nevada after you account for the fraud and irregularities that occurred in the election,” Laxalt was there to lay out the evidence at a press conference in November 2020.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin repeatedly flip-flopped on whether or not the election was stolen before ultimately conceding Biden’s victory. In June, the January 6 Committee alleged that a Johnson staffer offered to “hand deliver” slates of fake electors to a staffer of former Vice President Mike Pence on behalf of Johnson, as part of an effort to overturn the election results. Johnson denied involvement or knowledge of the scheme at the time but backtracked in August, telling an ABC affiliate in Wisconsin that his “involvement in that attempt to deliver spanned the course of a couple seconds” and included a few text messages, while maintaining that he didn’t know what was going to be delivered to Pence. That same month, Johnson’s campaign received $1.3 million of support from Opportunity Matters.

According to Opportunity Matters fundraising materials obtained by Forbes, the PAC’s goal is “to help win back the Senate [and House] majority that will act as a bulwark against the Democratic Socialist agenda.” According to its website, which prominently features South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, the PAC seeks to accomplish this by supporting “federal candidates who are aligned with [Scott’s] Opportunity Agenda,” based on “the conservative principle of equal access to opportunity” through “choice in education and economic freedom.” Last week, Politico reported that Scott’s longtime chief of staff Jennifer DeCasper is leaving to start her own consulting firm, “where she will help guide his political activities ahead of the midterm elections,” including by advising Opportunity Matters. In September, the PAC spent $1 million supporting Scott, who doesn’t appear to have questioned the 2020 presidential election’s results, and previously provided indirect support with a $1 million contribution to the National Victory Action Fund, which spent $1.1 million supporting the South Carolina Senator’s campaign this cycle. But a significant amount of its money has gone to support Walker, Johnson, Budd and Laxalt, including in videos of Scott endorsing each candidate.

Ellison isn’t the only billionaire backing Opportunity Matters, though his $20 million dwarfed all other donors. Of the $26 million the PAC has raised this cycle, a total of $725,000 came from six other billionaires. Hedge fund tycoon Ken Griffin kicked in $250,000. A spokesperson for Griffin told Forbes, “Ken believes our nation’s interests are best served by the election of exceptional Americans to office. He supports Senator Scott’s efforts to broaden the tent of the Republican party by promoting talented women, minority and veteran candidates in this year’s election.”

New Balance founder Jim Davis and private equity titan Marc Rowan each wrote checks for $150,000. Another buyout boss, Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman, chipped in $100,000, while former Tennessee governor Bill Haslam was good for half of that. Kenny Troutt, who sold long-distance phone company Excel Communications for $3.5 billion in 1998, topped things off with another $25,000. Benjamin Navarro, a little-known Charleston, South Carolina businessman, was the PAC’s second-largest donor and the only one besides Ellison to give over $1 million. Navarro contributed $2.5 million.

Spokespeople for the other candidates, donors and the PAC did not reply to requests for comment from Forbes.


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