Todd Ricketts is the son of Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade and owner of the Chicago Cubs. Both father and son are influential conservative donors, and Todd is the Director and CEO of Ending Spending, which has received significant funding from the Ricketts patriarch (its founder) and conservative megadonor Sheldon Adelson.
The Ricketts family’s political proclivities rose to particular infamy in 2012 when the New York Times reported on a secret $10 million “Ricketts Plan” to attack “Barack Hussein Obama” for his connection to Rev. Jeremiah Wright while Obama supposedly pretended to be a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.” The racially charged plot, which included plans to hire a “extremely literate conservative African-American” as a spokesperson, was designed to “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do” against Obama in 2008, according to the plan’s own documents.
Just like his father, Todd has been a major supporter of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. In 2012 Ricketts donated $45,000 dollars to Friends of Scott Walker, according to Wisconsin’s Campaign Finance Information System. This including a major donation of $25,000 on May 31st, just a week before the election took place. The Republic Report notes that Todd’s donations were a mere portion of the $140,000 dollars that the Ricketts family donated to Walker’s campaign between January and March 2012. But Ricketts’ support of Walker didn’t end with the recall campaign. In June 2013, Ricketts threw another $10,000 Walker’s way.
Ricketts came out in support of Walker’s expected presidential bid by hosting a fundraising barbecue on May 20th, 2015 for Walker’s Unintimidated PAC which raised “very significant” amounts of money, according to the Chicago Sun Times. He later hosted a second barbecue, and one of the two was attended by David Koch. However, the Wisconsin governor is far from the only candidate to whom Todd has given significant sums of money. FEC’s individual contribution database details over $160,000 in donations to political committees between 1999 and 2014. In addition, he donated $295,000 in limit-exempt “soft money.” This included $50,000 to Mitt Romney’s Restore Our Future PAC in September 2012. (He also, mysteriously, donated $2,500 to Gary Johnson’s longshot presidential bid just ten days later.)
In July 2015, Politico detailed that money from Midwestern megadonors like the Ricketts family was “fueling Walker’s campaign groundwork,” continuing a mutually beneficial relationship that has lasted throughout Walker’s governorship. Ending Spending ran a $250,000 ad buy praising Walker, and Walker traveled to Nevada to campaign on behalf of Pete Ricketts’ governor run.