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Wealthy investors, PACs and big GOP donors fill Sinema’s campaign

More than half of the Democratic-turned-independent senator's first-quarter fundraising came from contributors who gave donations of $3,300 or more.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., at the Capitol on March 15, 2023.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., at the Capitol on March 15, 2023.Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call via AP file

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's campaign raised over $2.1 million in the first quarter of this year, with over half of that coming from donors who gave at least $3,300 -- the maximum per-election individual donation to a Senate campaign.

More than 30% of the Democrat-turned-independent's haul this quarter came from employees of just five major companies, including hedge funds, investment groups and private equity firms.

She received $287,000 from employees of Blackstone, the major investment firm, and its affiliates, as well as almost $196,000 from employees of the Carlyle Group and its affiliates, according to a NBC News analysis of her campaign finance filing. Sinema also received over $51,000 from employees of Elliott Advisors and their affiliates, over $71,000 from employees of Ryan LLC, and over $53,000 from employees of the firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and its subsidiaries.

Sinema has been criticized in the past for her ties to Wall Street and the wealthy. Much of this critique has come from Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., who announced last year that he would run for the Democratic nomination to her Senate seat.

In his first quarter filing, Gallego reported raising $3.7 million in his campaign account from January through March.

In a release, Gallego touted his support from small dollar donors, raising 98% of his haul from donors who gave under $100.

“At the end of the day: This seat is not going to be bought by a few rich guys on Wall Street. It’s going to be won with the support of regular, everyday Arizonans—and I’m proud to have them in my corner," Gallego said in a statement.

Sinema, who is completing her first term in the Senate, has not announced whether she'll run again in 2024. She left the Democratic caucus in 2022 to be an independent, so presumably she would run as an independent in 2024 if she decides to run for reelection.

Sinema's first-quarter donors also include a number of prominent Republicans, like Blackstone's Stephen Schwarzman, one of the most prolific GOP super PAC donors in the 2022 election cycle. KKR's Ken Mehlman, a former George W. Bush campaign manager and Bush-era Republican National Committee chair, also donated to Sinema in the first three months of 2023.

At least one Republican has already announced his campaign to run for Senate in Arizona: Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb.

It's widely expected that Kari Lake, a former TV news anchor who won the Republican nomination for governor in 2022 but lost the general election, may run for Senate this cycle, too.