1965 Wharton graduate Ronald Lauder, a major donor to Penn, joins the growing list of megadonors who have backed away from financing former president Donald Trump for his 2024 presidential campaign.
On Nov. 16, one day after Trump announced his third bid for presidency, Lauder was the third GOP megadonor to announce he would not financially support Trump's third run for the presidency — following Citadel CEO Ken Griffin and Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, according to CNBC News.
Lauder, an heir to the Estée Lauder fortune with a net worth of $4.5 billion, has been a long-time Republican supporter and a close friend and ally of Trump since their undergraduate years at Wharton. He previously donated $100,000 in 2017 and again in 2019 to the Republican National Committee, CNBC reported.
During Trump’s presidency, the cosmetics and beauty brand heir and philanthropist complimented Trump as “a man of incredible insight and intelligence."
Lauder has received internal pressures in the past for his loyalty to Trump. In 2020, employees from Estée Lauder petitioned for his removal from the board of directors on the grounds of his support of Trump. At the same time, his wife of 50 years, Jo Carole, gave more than $50,000 to Biden's campaign and the Democratic National Committee, according to Forbes.
While Lauder’s spokesman has not revealed his stance in 2024, CNBC reports that the billionaire political donor gave $10,000 last year for Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’s reelection campaign.
DeSantis, who won the gubernatorial reelection last week by almost 20 percentage points, is slated to be a top contender against Trump in the Republican party. When DeSantis first ran for Florida governor in 2018, Lauder donated $200,000, reported CNBC.
Amid the recent midterm elections in New York, The New York Times published a piece labeling Lauder a “political disrupter.” He spent more than $11 million in the New York gubernatorial race backing congressman Lee Zeldin, a Trump-backed Republican. Zeldin lost that race to Democrat Kathy Hochul.
The growing group of Republican megadonors is blaming Trump for the party’s performance in the midterms, according to CNBC. Griffin, the CEO of the investment company Citadel, has called Trump a “three-time loser” in a recent Bloomberg summit and called for a new generation of Republicans to take over.
In a recent interview with the Times, Lauder declined to defend Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, saying that “I’m not there for Trump, I’m there for the Republican Party."