There isn’t much that fathers wouldn’t do for their kids, especially in politics.
Take this famous quote from former President John F. Kennedy: “I just received the following wire from my generous Daddy; ‘Dear Jack, Don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.’”
That’s right, ‘rents bankrolling your future extends past writing the hefty tuition check to helping sway the electorate. In Indiana this past election, winner Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R) also got a helpful boost from his old man. His father Joe gave almost $1.5 million to a super PAC called Indiana Jobs Now, which cannot legally coordinate with Trey’s campaign. Joe was the sole funder. The group spent $860,000 attacking three of Trey’s rivals, and $400,000 to help his campaign.
We’ve even seen a dad go to jail for his lawmaker son. The father of Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) was sentenced to a year of jail time last year for organizing a straw donor scheme to fund his son’s first two congressional runs in 2010 and 2012. Prosecutors found Babulal Bera solicited at least $260,000 worth of donations from family and friends that were within the campaign finance limits, but then reimbursed these donations, which is illegal.
Their financial support doesn’t always pay off. Democrat Patrick Murphy, who ran for the Florida Senate and lost to Sen. Marco Rubio (R), also had help from his pops. His father Thomas Murphy gave $450,000 to a pro-Murphy super PAC called Floridians for a Strong Middle Class, while his construction company, Coastal Construction Group, donated $300,000. Their donations made up about a quarter of the super PAC’s donations.
Karl Fetterman gave $100,000 to The 15104, a super PAC backing his son, John Fetterman, a Democrat and mayor of Braddock who ran in the Pennsylvania Senate primary last year. The group only raised $136,000, and $126,000 came from Karl and Gregg Fetterman, both working for Kling Brothers Insurance Agency.
Researchers Douglas Weber and Andrew Mayersohn contributed to this post.