politics

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick Quietly Donated to Super PAC Backing Ex-Hedge Fund Chief's Senate Bid

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  • Activision CEO Bobby Kotick used a limited liability company to quietly donate to a committee backing a Republican former hedge fund chief's U.S. Senate run in Pennsylvania.
  • The company donated $100,000 to Honor Pennsylvania Inc., which is supporting former Bridgewater CEO Dave McCormick's effort in the race, according to a filing.
  • The donation from the LLC to the pro-McCormick PAC likely marks the most Kotick, who has given to both Republicans and Democrats, has ever donated to a political cause.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick used a limited liability company to quietly donate to a committee backing a Republican former hedge fund chief's U.S. Senate run in Pennsylvania.

The LLC, called 807080A, donated $100,000 on New Year's Eve to Honor Pennsylvania Inc., which is supporting former Bridgewater CEO Dave McCormick's effort in the race, according to a Federal Election Commission filing.

The LLC's California address on that document is identical to the one listed on 990 tax forms for Kotick's foundation, which is called the 803011 Foundation.

It also matches the address on FEC filings showing Kotick's individual contributions as recently as September 2021 to various campaigns, including donations supporting Sen. Todd Young, R-Iowa and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Both lawmakers are up for reelection in 2022.

This might not be the first time that Kotick has used this LLC to fund Republican efforts. In 2014, the Republican Governors Association, which is a 527 tax exempt group, listed a donation from a company with the same name but a different California address. The LLC donated a combined $150,000 to the group dedicated to election Republican gubernatorial candidates.

Data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows that Kotick's LLC has never been used to fund any other campaigns or political action committees. The donation from the LLC to the pro-McCormick PAC likely marks the most Kotick has ever donated to a campaign or a political action committee, according to CRP data.

Other donations to the pro-McCormick PAC include a $5 million contribution from Citadel CEO Ken Griffin. Wealthy donors, including conservative tech investor Peter Thiel and liberal businessman George Soros, have also spent money to back candidates ahead of this year's midterm elections.

Donors often use LLCs to conceal their identity and avoid scrutiny as they finance their preferred candidates for office. Real estate executive Stephen Rosenberg used a shell company to back then President Donald Trump after years of supporting Democrats. The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group which tracks political spending, says LLCs can be "created primarily to conceal the true source of money flowing to super PACs that spend millions of dollars to influence elections."

A spokesman for Kotick confirmed that the company manages some of the executive's investments and that he is supporting McCormick.

"The company has been around since 2008 and manages some of Mr. Kotick's investments. Mr. Kotick contributes to Democratic and Republican candidates and is supporting David McCormick because he is a very close friend," spokesman Mark Herr told CNBC in an email on Tuesday.

The donation to the McCormick super PAC through the LLC came after reports detailing sexual misconduct allegations within Activision Blizzard. The contribution arrived just weeks before Microsoft announced it was moving to buy Activision in a deal worth $68.7 billion. Microsoft expects the deal to close within a year and a half.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Kotick was aware of the allegations and sometimes didn't inform the company's board of directors. An Activision Blizzard spokeswoman said at the time that Kotick "would not have been informed of every report of misconduct at every Activision Blizzard company, nor would he reasonably be expected to have been updated on all personnel issues."

While Kotick has given to both Democrats and Republicans, most of his biggest contributions have gone to GOP contenders. Data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows Kotick gave at least $50,000 to America Leads, a super PAC that supported former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie when he ran for president in 2016.

The pro-McCormick PAC is fighting to help the former hedge fund boss win a Republican primary fight for the seat currently held by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. who is retiring. Celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz is also running in the GOP primary.

McCormick has hired people with close ties to former President Donald Trump, including ex-White House aides Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller. His campaign ran an ad during the Super Bowl that used the "Let's go Brandon" slogan conservatives have used to mock President Joe Biden.

Oz, on the other hand, seems to be trying to build ties with both Senate Republicans, led by Trump adversary Mitch McConnell, and the former president.

The winner of the Republican race could end up facing Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the general election.

That race has become one of the most expensive battles in the 2022 midterm elections.

Ad tracking firm Medium Buying says that over $30 million has been spent so far in the Republican primary battle for Pennsylvania's Senate seat, including millions by the pro-McCormick super PAC.

Clarification: This story was updated to reflect that Kotick's donations to organizations supporting Republican Senate candidates were made through limited liability corporations to which his name was not attached, not secret companies.

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