Across the 10 states included in Transparency USA’s database, several prominent women dominated donor lists in the 2020 election cycle. Some, like Karla Jurvetson and Deborah Simon, targeted key state-level elections across multiple swing states. Others focused their contributions closer to home, supporting candidates and PACs in their state of residence. While Transparency USA focuses on state-level campaign finance, all of these women have supported federal candidates and causes as well. See those contributions here.
These are Transparency USA’s top female state-level donors from 2020, along with an early look at who they are supporting in the 2022 election cycle so far.
Karla Jurvetson is a psychiatrist and mega-donor who has backed Democratic candidates and causes across the country. During the 2020 election cycle she supported local Democratic parties and candidates in swing states Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin to the tune of more than $16 million, and that does not include Jurvetson’s donations in other states or to federal candidates. After the 2020 cycle, multiple media outlets referred to the Silicon Valley physician as one of the most influential women in political fundraising.
So far, Jurvetson has contributed more than $500,000 in Wisconsin and $100,000 in Michigan in the 2022 election cycle.
Stacy Schusterman comes next after Jurvetson, contributing $5.1 million, less than one third of what Jurvetson did in the 2020 election; however, Schusterman has her hand in more swing states. Stacy Schusterman is the chair of Samson Energy Company, LLC, a private oil and gas company. Schusterman is also chair of Granite Properties, according to the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation website. During the 2020 election cycle, she contributed more than $5 million to left-leaning organizations and candidates in Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. While the business interests of the heiress sit heavily in Texas, Schusterman and her family reside in Oklahoma (a state not yet included in Transparency USA’s database).
So far, Schusterman has contributed almost $550,000 across six states in the 2022 election cycle.
Diane Hendricks gave almost $3 million to state Republican parties and candidates during the 2020 cycle, earning her the top spot in Wisconsin. According to Forbes, Hendricks chairs ABC Supply, one of the nation’s largest wholesale distributors of roofing, siding, and windows. Hendricks’ top contribution was in the amount of $2,900,000 to the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
In 2021, she has given $52,000 so far, with nearly half that money supporting the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
The number two donor in Virginia’s 2020 election cycle was Sonjia Smith. Smith is a Democratic donor and the wife of businessman Michael Bills. According to campaign finance data, Smith contributed more than $1.6 million to multiple candidates and committees, with the largest share of her contributions going to Jennifer Carroll Foy in the amount of $500,000.
Next on the list is one half of the “Simon Sisters”— Deborah Simon. Deborah and her sister Cynthia Simon-Skjodt are best known for founding Simon Malls around the country. Their opposition to fellow Hoosier and former-Vice President Pence was highly publicized, as they vehemently disagreed with his stances on religious freedom and abortion. During the 2020 election cycle, Deborah Simon contributed $1,537,000 across Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.
So far, Simon has contributed more than $1 million between Arizona, Michigan, and Texas during the 2022 election cycle.
In North Carolina, Virginia B. Sall landed just after Michael Bloomberg on the donor list for the 2020 election cycle. Sall was a prominent contributor to state-level Democratic candidates and causes, donating more than $1.15 million during the two-year time period. Sall is the co-founder of the Sall Family Foundation and serves on the board of directors of CARE USA, along with numerous other environmentally-minded organizations.
Coming in behind Karla Jurvetson and George Soros in Pennsylvania during the 2020 election cycle was Jan Duncan. The Houston-based philanthropist claimed her spot on Pennsylvania’s top donors list with a single contribution to the Republican State Leadership Committee PAC & Individual Account.
In Ohio, two women battled for the top spot throughout the 2020 election cycle. Karen Buchwald Wright, a Republican donor in the state, narrowly claimed the top spot by the time the election was over. Buchwald Wright is the President and CEO of Ariel Corporation, a company founded by her father, which manufactures natural gas compressors. She gave more than $660,000 to state-level Republican parties and candidates during the 2020 election.
Topping the Ohio donor list for some time before being edged out by Buchwald Wright was Frances G. Pepper. Pepper is a well-known Ohio philanthropist and wife of former Procter & Gamble CEO John Pepper. She has been a top supporter of Democratic candidates and causes across the state, giving over $650,000 during the 2020 cycle. The Pepper family has strong ties to the state’s Democratic Party as well, with her son, David, serving as the Ohio party’s chairman for five years.
Pepper only has $500 in donations on record for the 2022 cycle so far.
A complete list of state-level donors for all 10 swing states can be found on Transparency USA. Select the 2020 election cycle to see the most recent complete election cycle. Select the 2022 cycle to view all reported donations from the first half of 2021. Subscribe to get the latest data as soon as it becomes available.