Speed Reads

Campaign Cash

Who's pouring millions into an effort to sink Donald Trump? The mother of Nebraska's governor.

At least a third of this year's Republican electorate likes Donald Trump enough to vote for him, but it's no secret that the Republican establishment would prefer somebody like Sen. Marco Rubio. Elite Republican donors have been pouring money into the campaigns of Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. John Kasich, and, until recently, Jeb Bush, but Marlene Ricketts is going a step further. According to newly released campaign finance reports, Ricketts gave $3 million to Our Principles PAC — a group managed by Mitt Romney 2012 top aide Katie Packer, dedicated to destroying Trump's candidacy — accounting for nearly all the funds the PAC raised in January. Our Principles sent anti-Trump mailers and ran Trump-bashing ads before the Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina contests.

So who is Marlene Ricketts? She and her husband, billionaire T.D. Ameritrade founder J. Joe Ricketts, have owned the Chicago Cubs since 2009, led the charge to tie then-Sen. Barack Obama to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in the 2008 election, and backed the brief campaign of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) this election cycle. Their son is Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R). Marlene Ricketts isn't just financing ads calling Trump a GOP-wrecking fake conservative, though; she also gave $10,000 each last year to super PACs backing Rubio, Bush, Cruz, Rick Perry, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Our Priorities may not have had much luck slowing Trump so far, but it will "launch aggressive efforts" before Super Tuesday on March 1, Packer told USA Today in an email. "We will continue to shine a bright light on Trump's liberal statements and inconsistencies." Or they will at least as long as Ricketts is writing big checks.