Everything you need to know about where Cory Booker gets his money

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On Friday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) announced he is running for president.

In an announcement video lined up for the first day of Black History Month, Booker highlighted his parents involvement in desegregating the neighborhood he grew up in and spoke of the importance of collective action, common purpose and of “building an America where no one is forgotten.”

Booker’s entry into the race was expected and he likely will be a prominent fundraiser with one college friend ready to raise $10 million by the end of March. He joined with other Democrats and rejected corporate PAC money in February 2018. His campaign said they would not support super PACs spending money on his behalf, however the campaign cannot actually prevent outside groups from making independent expenditures.

Booker, the former mayor of Newark, N.J., has been in the national spotlight since his first unsuccessful mayoral race in 2002 was covered in the Oscar-nominated documentary “Street Fight.” A member of the Senate since 2013, Booker has been one of the more staunchly liberal senators. He is a co-sponsor on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) “Medicare for All” single-payer healthcare bill and has been active in advocating for legislation loosening the federal government’s laws on marijuana.

One of his biggest achievements was his work on the passage of the bipartisan First Step Act which addressed one of Booker’s biggest issues, criminal justice reform. Some of his other positions share more ground with Republicans than his fellow Democrats. He famously defended Bain Capital during the 2012 presidential race. In 2018, he co-sponsored a bill which opposed the boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) movement against Israel, a piece of legislation other 2020 Democrats like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sanders opposed.

His support of the anti-BDS movement could coincide with the significant financial support he receives from pro-Israel groups. In 2014, his largest overall contributor was NorPAC, which donated $158,871, much of it earmarked for Booker by individuals giving to the PAC. NorPAC states its mission as to support congressional members who “demonstrate a genuine commitment to the strength, security, and survival of Israel.” One of the issues they mention on the group’s site is opposition to BDS. Also in his last Senate race, he received money from eight other pro-Israel PACs, totaling $36,527.

Booker has been a powerful fundraiser in his time in the Senate. Since 2013, he raised more than $25.9 million. In the 2018 cycle, a cycle in which he was not running, Booker’s campaign brought in more than $8.3 million in total.

An issue that may arise in the 2020 Democratic primary is the close relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and Booker. New Jersey hosts the headquarters of many major pharmaceutical companies and they have long had good relations with the New Jersey delegations. Booker said in 2017 that he would put “a pause” on accepting money from the industry. This was after he received heavy progressive criticism for helping kill a bill sponsored by Sanders to lower drug prices. In 2016, pharmaceutical PACs gave $57,500 to Booker. Becton, Dickinson & Co, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi PACs all contributed $5,000 each in 2016. Before that, in 2014, a cycle he was actually running in, Booker’s campaign took in $161,000 in pharmaceutical PAC money. Pfizer contributed $17,500, Merck & Co gave $12,500 and several more gave $10,000 each.

Throughout his Senate career, PAC contributions have played a major part in his fundraising. Since 2013, Booker’s campaign has been given more than $2 million in PAC funds, particularly from business PACs which make up almost 76 percent of PAC contributions in his career. In the 2018 cycle, PACs from the communications and electronics sector led the way with $49,500 in contributions. One communication industry PAC donor was T-Mobile USA which gave Booker’s campaign $6,000 in 2018. T-Mobile has been pursuing a merger with Sprint, which Booker expressed concerns over.

The finance, insurance and real estate industry PACs have also been a major Booker supporter, taking the number one industry PAC spot in 2014 and ranking second in 2018. In 2018, his campaign received a combined $40,500 from the sector.

Booker had recent fundraising success with his leadership PAC, Purpose PAC. During the 2018 cycle, the PAC raised more than $1.23 million. The PAC’s top donor for that cycle was Carella, Byrne et al. Individuals from the corporate law firm donated $27,000. Other top donors include Li & Fung, a global supply-chain management firm, and Harvest Partners, a private equity firm. The railroad industry contributed $20,000 through PACs, making it the top industry in PAC donations.

Purpose PAC spent generously on House and Senate candidates contributing $490,000 in the 2018 cycle. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) received the most of any House candidate, $10,000, from Purpose PAC. The top recipient in the Senate was former Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) who received $15,000 in his unsuccessful reelection and recount campaign.  

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