When aides supporting Tim Scott filed reams of paperwork with the Federal Election Commission last week, the name Larry Ellison came up only once—on March 23, attached to a $2,566.13 in-kind contribution for “lodging.” The legally-required disclosure, which suggests that Ellison merely offered Scott or his staff a crash pad, surprised insiders close to Scott’s presidential campaign. Ellison, after all, has long been Scott’s most opulent benefactor, fueling his super PAC with an astounding $35 million over the past three years in anticipation of this very moment. But in the first half of the year, according to F.E.C. documents, the world’s fifth richest person gave $0 to his preferred candidate—an apparent snub from the billionaire Scott hailed at his presidential kick-off as “one of my mentors.”
Ellison’s conspicuous absence during this reporting period wasn’t an accident. It was, I’ve learned, part of an intentional strategy. Ellison has already decided to make a massive donation to Scott’s super PAC, which should be wired soon if it hasn’t landed in his account already. The commitment, described to me as a planned eight-figure contribution, would be at minimum the second largest contribution in the Republican presidential primary thus far. If the gift eclipses the $20 million given by Robert Bigelow to boost Ron DeSantis, it would be the single biggest check of the entire 2024 race.
Ellison, who famously keeps his own counsel, is emotional about candidates, falling hard for politicians like Bibi Netanyahu, Marco Rubio and now Scott. (His support for Trump was a bit more circumspect.) But Ellison has deliberately cooled his jets to help manage the optics of his extraordinary financial support. The arrival of this particular check, I’m told, has been explicitly timed by Scott’s and Ellison’s teams to hit the wire only after June 30, outside the most recent F.E.C. filing period. As a result, the donation won’t be publicly documented until the next super PAC filing deadline, which isn’t until late January, after the Iowa caucuses, a lifetime from now. (Ellison and his spokespeople didn’t return requests for comment. A spokesman for the Scott super PACs, overseen by primo G.O.P. strategist Rob Collins and former Colorado senator Cory Gardner, declined to comment.)