PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison has become one of the few tech moguls to publicly back President Donald Trump's reelection bid after announcing a Feb. 19 campaign fundraiser to be hosted at his golf course and estate in the California desert.
Less than two weeks before California's Super Tuesday primary election, Ellison will host supporters on a golf outing in Rancho Mirage, Calif. For $100,000, supporters can join a golf outing and have their photo taken with the president. For $250,000, contributors get a photo, golf outing and can participate in a roundtable discussion. Both options are for two guests.
Ellison, who supported Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in the 2016 Republican primary is a valuable convert for the Trump campaign. Although he's a longtime contributor to conservative candidates and causes, as of the end of 2019, he had never contributed to Trump’s campaign or associated PACs.
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The contributions will go to "Trump Victory," a joint fundraising committee formed by the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and state GOP chapters. The large contributions will be distributed to Trump's primary and general election accounts, the RNC, state parties, and also go toward bankrolling the Republican National Convention, according to the invitation.
The fundraiser is part of a larger California sweep that has the president scheduled to appear in Bakersfield and Beverly Hills. After Rancho Mirage, he'll jet to Phoenix for one of his trademark rallies Wednesday evening.
Ellison’s Coachella Valley footprint expands beyond Rancho Mirage. The billionaire purchased the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and BNP Paribas Open for $100 million in 2009. The 2020 tournament is coming up in early March.
The California billionaire has personally contributed $9.5 million to federal candidates and political action committees since 1993, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
In the fall 2017, Ellison backed a host of Republicans in the midterms, maxing out at $5,400 for Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.; Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas. That same cycle, he gave $44,300 to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s Victory Fund and nearly $34,000 to the National Republican Senate Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Trump does not have a rally scheduled during his visit to the Coachella Valley, but Riverside County Republican Party Chair Jonathan Ingram said having the president visit the region has "immense" meaning for local Republicans.
"It's showing that he understands that California actually matters in respect to being a Republican and a conservative," Ingram told The Desert Sun, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.
California may not be known as a Republican stronghold, but the state has almost 5 million registered Republican voters and a bounty of conservative campaign financiers who, in the past, haven't hesitated to open their wallets for the GOP's presidential candidates.
According to a January poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, Trump's approval rating is 31% among Californians. But in 2019, the president's reelection campaign raised $12.2 million from California contributors, more than any other candidate.
Trump's Coachella Valley ties span back to 1991, when he celebrated his then-wife Marla Maples' 28th birthday at Melvyn's in Palm Springs. After Prop. 1A passed in 2000, allowing the state to enter into gaming compacts with tribes, Trump Hotels & Casinos Inc. partnered with the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians on the tribe's casino expansion project in Coachella. The tribe severed its relationship with Trump in 2004.
In 2016, he said the windmills bordering Interstate 10 made Palm Springs look like "a junkyard" on 2012 presidential candidate Herman Cain's radio show.
"You know, you’re driving into Palm Springs, California, and it looks like a poor man’s version of Disneyland. It’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen," he told Cain.