New York's ritzy Hamptons plays host to over a dozen political fundraisers this month as midterms approach

Key Points
  • Political candidates are making a last dash to fill their campaign coffers with less than 100 days until the November elections.
  • More than a dozen congressional and state lawmakers are holding fundraisers in the swanky Hamptons in August alone.
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Democrats and Republicans alike are heading out to the ritzy Hamptons, New York's summer playground for the wealthy, to fill their campaign war chests in the final months of the 2022 midterm elections, and, in some cases, to test presidential aspirations for 2024.

With just under 100 days until the November elections, more than a dozen congressional and state lawmakers are heading to the Hamptons for fundraisers in August alone. Wall Street executives, media titans, top lawyers and other corporate leaders are hosting numerous pricy fundraising dinners at their beach town estates, according to interviews with GOP and Democratic fundraisers, donors and political consultants. Many of the people in this story declined to be named to discuss private gatherings featuring candidates and other financiers.

"They are all here," said a Democratic fundraiser hosting multiple upcoming events in the Hamptons.

Donors from Suffolk County on Long Island, where the Hamptons are located, have contributed over $17 million to candidates during the 2022 election cycle, according to data from nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets. Suffolk County donors gave more than $45 million to campaigns during the 2020 election.

Democrats who have scheduled fundraisers in the Hamptons include, author and Maryland Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and California House Rep. Karen Bass, according to invitations reviewed by CNBC and people familiar with the matter. Hochul is running for reelection against Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., while Bass is campaigning to be the next mayor of Los Angeles.

A Hochul campaign spokeswoman declined to comment. Representatives for Moore, Abrams and Bass did not return requests for comment.

Republicans who recently scheduled or have allies trying to organize meetings in the Hamptons with top donors include Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, former Vice President Mike Pence and Marc Molinaro, a county official in New York state, according to invitations and people familiar with the matter.

Representatives for Sasse, DeSantis, Cotton, McCarthy, Pence and Molinaro did not return requests for comment.

Sasse isn't up for reelection until 2026 so his fundraiser could fuel speculation that he's considering running for president in 2024. Mark Gerson and Rabbi Erica Gerson are hosting a fundraiser for Sasse at their Sag Harbor, N.Y., home on Friday, according to an invitation. Seats are going for between $1,000 to $10,800 per person, which will go to Sasse's leadership committee. Gerson, who is the co-founder of financial advisory firm Gerson Lehrman Group, did not return requests for comment.

Molinaro is running for a House seat in New York in the midterms, and McCarthy is up for reelection this year. Republican kingmaker and metal mogul Andy Sabin is co-hosting a fundraiser on Thursday at his seven-acre compound in Amagansett near East Hampton for Molinaro with McCarthy as a featured guest, according to Sabin.

Tickets for the event go from $1,000 to $5,000 in support of Molinaro's campaign. He noted that Zeldin and Rep. Andrew Garbarino, R-N.Y., are also attending the event.

Stephen Louro, the CEO of employee benefit and insurance company Professional Group Plans, is hosting a fundraiser at his Nissequogue estate for Zeldin on Aug. 24. The dinner, which is backing his gubernatorial campaign, will feature a jet suit flight demonstration, a performance by vocalist Christopher Macchio and a fireworks show, according to an invitation. Louro's massive waterfront home includes a pool and direct access to the beach, according to Virtual Globetrotting, a website that tracks the homes of the rich and famous.

Louro did not return requests for comment.

Sabin said he was invited to a Hamptons fundraiser that took place at the end of July for DeSantis' gubernatorial campaign which was hosted by an investor named Doug Douglas, the Republican fundraiser said. Another GOP fundraiser said DeSantis is expected to come back to the Hamptons by the end of the month.

Sabin, who contributed just over $220,000 to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee for former President Donald Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee during his two runs for president, said he won't back Trump in a GOP primary for president in 2024 — but he would support him in the general election if he wins the nomination. Sabin said he's met with multiple potential 2024 contenders, and, while he wouldn't say who he's met with, he noted he hasn't spoken to Trump since his 2020 defeat. Sabin said he recently helped DeSantis raise over $1 million at a fundraiser at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla.

Sabin said one of the reasons he soured on Trump is the former president's reluctance to move on from the 2020 presidential election. "I think a lot of people like myself wanted him to get past 2020," Sabin explained. "He could be such a huge help to the party if he could get over the fact that he lost."

Trump told New York Magazine in a recent interview that he has already decided to run for president again, and that he only needs to settle whether he launches a campaign before or after the midterms.

DeSantis is fighting for reelection in Florida, but he too has been meeting with powerful out-of-state donors and has not publicly ruled out running for president. Cotton also isn't up for reelection for another four years, but he's reportedly huddled with donors to discuss a 2024 run for president. Pence has also been privately huddling with donors and has not ruled out a 2024 White House run.

The other hosts of the August events in the Hamptons amount to a who's who of affluent business leaders looking to help raise millions of dollars for candidates. Moore is set to be hosted at the Water Mill, N.Y., home of Brian Eizenstat, a managing partner at hedge fund Dilation Capital, according to an invitation. The event is set to take place Aug. 21, with tickets starting at $500 and going up to $6,000. Other co-hosts listed include Jon Henes, the CEO of corporate advisory firm C-Street Advisory Group.

Eizenstat did not return a request for comment.

Wall Street veteran Richard Perry and his wife, Lisa, are hosting a fundraiser at their Hamptons home for Abrams on Thursday, according to an email to donors. The invitation, which doesn't say who's hosting the event, asks for $1,000 to $10,000 per ticket. The gathering is in support of One Georgia, Abrams' leadership committee, according to the invitation.

Perry's Hamptons beach-front estate in Sag Harbor has a pool and tennis court, according to Virtual Globetrotting. Perry once ran the now-closed Perry Capital and is the nephew to the late Jimmy Cayne, the former CEO of Bear Stearns.

This week Abrams will also be at the Hamptons home of Emily Giske, a senior partner at lobbying giant Bolton-St.Johns, one political consultant said. Giske did not respond to a request for comment. Perry and his wife did not return repeated requests for comment.

Businessman Dennis Mehiel is scheduled to co-host an evening reception for Hochul at his Water Mill mansion on Aug. 13, according to an invitation. Tickets for that gathering run up to $25,000, with other co-hosts including public relations executive Mike Kempner and Bruce Mosler, a former CEO at Cushman and Wakefield.

Charles Philips, the former CEO of software company Infor, is co-hosting with veteran attorney Melissa Prober a $1,500-a-plate fundraiser at his East Hampton home for Bass. Phillips said he's also hosting a fundraiser for New York Mayor Eric Adams at the end of August.

"For moderate common sense Democrats, the donors seem supportive and interested," Philips said, when asked the type of reception he's receiving for the Bass event.