Conservative donor Joe Ricketts achieved a low level of notoriety in 2012 when the New York Times reported that he was considering a proposal for a series of ads that would link President Obama to the controversial preaching of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a tenuous line of attack that flared up in 2008 but was disavowed by influential members of the Republican establishment, including GOP nominee Sen. John McCain. According to the Times, Ricketts commissioned the proposal (tellingly, its subtitle christens it “The Ricketts Plan”) but distanced himself after backlash against its racially fraught suggestions, which included hiring an “extremely literate conservative African-American” to sell the idea that the president has falsely painted himself as a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”

The proposal was one of several submitted to Ricketts’ super PAC, the Ending Spending Action Fund, of which he was the sole identified donor as of summer 2012, but also received $1 million from conservative mega-donor Sheldon Adelson and his wife in October. Briefly called Taxpayers Against Earmarks, the Ending Spending Action Fund was founded in 2010, and Ricketts doled out over $1.3 million for its operations. During the 2010 elections, the group spent over $860,000 in an unsuccessful attempt to oust Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and install Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle. More recently, in addition to planning to target President Obama, the group spent at least $245,000 on ads supporting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in his recall election campaign. The group also funded a $75,000 ad campaign in Alabama helping Republican establishment candidate Bradley Byrne win a close primary election against tea party candidate Dean Young.

Although he claims to be an independent, Ricketts has given generously of his $1.23 billion net worth (and nearly exclusively) to Republican candidates across the conservative spectrum. Early in the 2012 cycle, Ricketts gave the maximum personal donation — $2,500 – to each of the candidates seeking the GOP nomination. That included not only Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Ron Paul, but also Tim Pawlenty (who got Ricketts’ first 2012 presidential donation), Michele Bachmann, and even Gary Johnson. In 2008, he and his wife gave $120,000 to John McCain’s Victory fund. Ricketts and his wife have also donated heavily to the Republican National Committee and Nebraska’s Republican Party. In addition, they’ve given $500,000 dollars to the Campaign for Primary Accountability, an anti-incumbent effort that has supported primary challenges against members of both parties.

Ricketts founded the company that is now TD Ameritrade, where he served as CEO until 2001 and Chairman until 2008. Together, he and his wife still own just over a tenth of the company, and two of their sons are on its board. Since retiring from Ameritrade, Ricketts has launched a handful of new business ventures: a bison meat supplier, an educational organization focused on developing countries, a New York City news website, and a film company that produces movies about American history. The Ricketts family owns 95 percent of the Chicago Cubs, which son Tom Ricketts controls, and Wrigley Field, along with a fifth of Comcast’s Chicago sports TV station. Ricketts’ son Peter unsuccessfully challenged Democrat Ben Nelson in Nebraska’s 2006 Senate race. Peter then served on the board of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, a position his father also once held, before being successfully elected as Governor of Nebraska. Ricketts’ daughter, Laura, however, is a bundler for President Obama. His third son, Todd, is the director & CEO of Ending Spending and another major conservative donor.

177 transactions on record as a donor.

Ordered By: Year (Newer to Older)

#
Donor
Recipient
Candidate
Amount
Year
Link
1Joe RickettsEnding Spending Action Fund$250,0002012+
2Joe RickettsEnding Spending Action Fund$250,0002012+
3Joe RickettsEnding Spending Action Fund$10,0002012+
4Joe RickettsNational Republican Congressional Committee$15,5542012+
5Joe RickettsRestore Our Future Inc$100,0002012+
6Joe RickettsEnding Spending Action Fund$375,0002012+
7Joe RickettsEnding Spending Action Fund$1,000,0002012+
8Joe RickettsEnding Spending Action Fund$5,486,3822012+
9Joe RickettsEnding Spending Action Fund$3,622,7252012+
10Joe RickettsEnding Spending Action Fund$1,255,8932012+
11Joe RickettsEnding Spending Action Fund$100,0002012+
12Joe RickettsEnding Spending Action Fund$350,0002012+
13Joe RickettsEnding Spending Action Fund$50,0002012+
14Joe RickettsCitizens for Josh Mandel IncJosh Mandel$2,5002012+
15Joe RickettsCitizens for Josh Mandel IncJosh Mandel$2,5002012+
16Joe RickettsDeb Fischer for US Senate IncDeb Fischer$2,5002012+
17Joe RickettsRomney for President IncMitt Romney$2,5002012+
18Joe RickettsRomney for President IncMitt Romney$2,5002012+
19Joe RickettsRepublican National Committee$5,0002012+
20Joe RickettsNational Republican Senatorial Committee$10,0002012+
21Joe RickettsDold for CongressRobert Dold$2,0002012+
22Joe RickettsRepublican National Committee$25,0002012+
23Joe RickettsRepublican Party of Cuyahoga County Federal Campaign Committee$10,0002012+
24Joe RickettsMcCaskill for MissouriClaire McCaskill$2,5002012+
25Joe RickettsCitizens for Josh Mandel IncJosh Mandel$2,5002012+
26Joe RickettsGary Johnson 2012 IncGary Johnson$2,5002012+
27Joe RickettsProtecting Michigan Taxpayers$100,0002012+
28Joe RickettsCampaign For Primary Accountability Inc $500,0002011+
29Joe RickettsPawlenty for PresidentTim Pawlenty$2,5002011+
30Joe RickettsPawlenty for PresidentTim Pawlenty$2,5002011+
31Joe RickettsJeff Flake for US Senate IncJeff Flake$2,5002011+
32Joe RickettsPawlenty for PresidentTim Pawlenty$2,5002011+
33Joe RickettsPawlenty for PresidentTim Pawlenty$5,0002011+
34Joe RickettsFriends of Mike Lee IncMike Lee$2,4002011+
35Joe RickettsVirginia Foxx for CongressVirginia Foxx$2,5002011+
36Joe RickettsRyan for CongressPaul Ryan$2,5002011+
37Joe RickettsRyan for CongressPaul Ryan$2,5002011+
38Joe RickettsStenberg for Senate 2012 CommitteeDon Stenberg$5002011+
39Joe RickettsRomney for President IncMitt Romney$2,5002011+
40Joe RickettsRon Paul 2012 Presidential Campaign Committee IncRon Paul$2,5002011+
41Joe RickettsLee Terry for CongressLee Terry$2,0002010+
42Joe RickettsEnding Spending Fund $600,0002010+
43Joe RickettsEnding Spending Fund $560,0002010+
44Joe RickettsNevada Republican State Central Committee$5002010+
45Joe RickettsSue Lowden for US SenateSue Lowden$4,0002010+
46Joe RickettsSue Lowden for US SenateSue Lowden$1,6002010+
47Joe RickettsJohanns for Senate IncorporatedMike Johanns$9522010+
48Joe RickettsJohanns for Senate IncorporatedMike Johanns$3,3522010+
49Joe RickettsDold for Congress$2,4002010+
50Joe RickettsJoe Wilson for Congress CommitteeJoe Wilson$2,0002010+
Contributions from private foundations and other nonprofit entities are based on a review of publicly available Forms 990 filed with the Internal Revenue Service. For more information about our methodology, visit our about page.