Wealthy donors help Biden best Trump in second quarter U.S. election fundraising

By Trevor Hunnicutt

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wealthy donors are giving Democrat Joe Biden a leg up in the U.S. presidential election money chase.

Biden and his allies reeled in $282.1 million from April through June, beating Republican President Donald Trump in quarterly fundraising for the first time. Individuals contributing $100,000 or more gave $53 million, nearly 20% of the overall haul, according to financial disclosures released late on Wednesday.

Contributors writing six-figure checks for Biden included media executive Rupert Murdoch's son James, liberal investor George Soros, Twitter Inc founder Evan Williams and "Jaws" director Steven Spielberg, the filings showed.

Trump and affiliates raised $266 million in the same quarter, with at least $18 million collected from a $100,000-plus group that includes Marvel Entertainment LLC's Isaac Perlmutter and Oracle Corp Chief Executive Safra Catz.

The new filings show how Biden is quickly making up for lost time against Trump, who has built a war chest for re-election since he took office in 2017. The election is on Nov. 3.

Biden started raising big sums after becoming his party's presumptive nominee in April, when he formed joint fundraising groups with the Democratic Party that can take in hundreds of thousands of dollars from individual donors. The campaign alone is restricted to taking $5,600 per person.

Biden is now raising a bit more cash than Trump while, according to the filings, spending less. His campaign manager, Jen O'Malley Dillon, said on Twitter on Thursday that they have $242 million in cash to spend. Trump reported $295 million in cash-on-hand as of June 30.

Even as the coronavirus wrecked the economy and put an end to wine-and-cheese events for donors, Biden has managed to pull in large sums from donors who now hobnob with him on Zoom.

Democratic fundraisers also have seen evidence of Trump's response to the coronavirus and protests over police brutality against African Americans motivating liberals to increase their giving.

Two outside groups that run ads in support of Biden also reported millions of dollars in contributions from wealthy donors. The Lincoln Project and American Bridge 21st Century, known for their withering ads attacking Trump, took in $16.8 million and $10.5 million, respectively, during the second quarter.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Howard Goller)