When Robert F. Kennedy Jr. held a swanky fundraiser for his presidential campaign last month in the upscale Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, much of the news focused on the anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist‘s celebrity guest: musician Eric Clapton. The legendary guitarist—who has promoted vaccine disinformation and who has a history of racist remarks—played for a crowd that raised a whopping $2.2 million for the Kennedy scion, who has been politically disowned by much of his family and who appears to be on the verge of shifting his Democratic presidential bid to an independent run.
Aubrey, who in March donated $3,300 to Kennedy Jr., is a Canadian-born billionaire tech entrepreneur and philanthropist. He sold his first venture, a software firm, to IBM for $641 million in 2004. He now runs a cybersecurity firm called Celerium.
Kennedy Jr.’s run against President Joe Biden has received other Republican big-money support. Of the $16 million raised (through July) by a super PAC backing his campaign, at least $5 million came from Timothy Mellon, a longtime GOP donor. (Mellon donated $1.5 million to a Trump-aligned organization in 2022.) Another $500,000 was donated to this pro-Kennedy super PAC last year by a tech entrepreneur and vaccination opponent named Mark Gorton, a onetime supporter of progressive causes who recently contributed to DeSantis and Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.). Whether it’s because of Kennedy’s war on vaccination or his potential to discomfort Biden and the Democratic Party—or perhaps both—the Chernicks and other GOP donors have fueled the long-shot campaign of a candidate with the most hallowed name in Democratic politics.
According to the Federal Election Commission, in June he he gave the maximum contribution of $6,600 to the presidential campaign of Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.). Last year, he maxed out to Dr. Oz when the Republican TV doctor ran for Senate in Pennsylvania. He donated $2,900 to Harriet Hageman, who successfully challenged Rep. Liz Cheney in the Republican primary for Wyoming’s lone House seat. He donated $5,800 to the reelection campaign of Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and kicked in another $17,500 to political action committees associated with Scott.
His wife Joyce has been a more prolific political donor. She, too, has backed the presidential bids of DeSantis and Kennedy Jr.. Last year, she contributed $2,900 to the New Journey PAC, a conservative group founded by an associate of Rush Limbaugh that focuses on Black voters and that endorsed Trump in 2020, and she gave $5,000 to Make America Great Again, Again, which was set up in 2021 as the primary super PAC for Trump. (It has been folded into a new PAC called Make America Great Again Inc.)
For the recent midterm elections, she donated $2,900 to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and another $2,900 to his Take Back the House 2022 PAC. She also poured $10,000 into Right Women PAC, a group run by Debra Meadows, the wife of Mark Meadows, the former GOP congressman and onetime chief of staff who was indicted in Georgia on election interference charges. Right Women PAC helped fund the campaigns of pro-Trump women candidates, including Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert. It employed Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who aided Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Like her husband, Joyce donated $23,300 to Tim Scott’s campaign and PACs.