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Cornel West smiles
Cornel West.Rob Latour / Penske Media via Getty Images

Cornel West draws max donation from GOP megadonor Harlan Crow

The professor is challenging President Joe Biden from the left in the 2024 presidential election, running as an independent after dropping a Green Party bid.


Progressive activist and independent presidential candidate Cornel West received a maximum campaign donation from Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, West's latest fundraising report shows.

Crow made the $3,300 donation in August, weeks before West abandoned his bid for the Green Party nomination to run as an independent. Crow has called West, a self-proclaimed “non-Marxist socialist” and longtime professor at Princeton University, “a good friend.” 

West has defended his campaign from questions about whether it would draw support from President Joe Biden, calling the two-party system an “impediment for the flower of American democracy” during an interview with NBC News' "Meet the Press Now."

Polls show Biden locked in a close race with former President Donald Trump ahead of a likely 2024 rematch, prompting concerns among Biden allies that the third-party bids could hamper Democrats’ efforts to hold onto the White House.

Almost 15% of registered voters said they would vote for a third party or independent candidate when given the explicit choice in an NBC News poll last month. By comparison, less than 2% of voters in 2020 cast a ballot for a candidate other than Biden or Trump. Polls usually overstate the amount of third-party support available compared to actual election results — but interest in third-party candidates is also higher than usual heading into the 2024 election.

Crow’s close ties to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas have come under scrutiny in recent months after a ProPublica report in April detailed gifts, travel, and other items of value provided by the Texas billionaire to Thomas and his family. 

Thomas had not disclosed these in his annual financial disclosure reports, stating that the gifts had constituted “personal hospitality,” and therefore did not fall under the disclosure rules at the time. 

Federal election filings show real estate developer Crow gave to Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie in the last quarter, as well as to GOP members of the Senate and House.

Republican presidential candidates Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis also count Crow as a donor. The rival campaigns met with a consortium of megadonors, including Crow, in Dallas this month hoping to leap-frog the field to become the top alternative to Trump.