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GOP billionaire Langone donated to Manchin’s PAC after senator opposed Biden’s Build Back Better Act

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U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) gestures as he speaks with the media following Senate Democratic lunch, on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 13, 2022.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

Ken Langone, a billionaire investor and Republican donor, contributed to Sen. Joe Manchin’s political action committee days after the conservative Democratic lawmaker said he would not support President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion social and climate spending package.

Langone and his wife each contributed $5,000 to Manchin’s Country Roads leadership PAC in donations dated New Year’s Eve, according to a Federal Election Commission filing first reviewed by CNBC. That total is the most an individual can contribute to such a PAC in a given year.

The contribution arrived just nearly two weeks after Manchin took to Fox News to announce he will not be backing the giant social spending proposal known as Build Back Better.

A month before his contribution, Langone praised Manchin live on CNBC. Langone also said he intended to host a massive fundraising event for the conservative Democrat, who has opposed and watered down key pieces of his own party’s agenda. Manchin is up for reelection in 2024.

“I don’t see leadership any place in this country. Thank God for Joe Manchin,” Langone said at the time. “I’m going to have one of the biggest fundraisers I’ve ever had for him. He’s special. He’s precious. He’s a great American,” he added. Watch the video here:

Manchin, who represents West Virginia, is a pivotal vote in a Senate split 50-50 among the two parties. That has made him and his political operation a magnet for lobbying from business leaders and special interest groups.

The Country Roads PAC raised over $150,000 in December, more than it did in November. In December, the committee also received donations from corporations such as AT&T, PG&E, Valero Energy, Honeywell International, Clearway Energy, Exelon and the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Prior to his December donation, Langone had never contributed to one of Manchin’s campaigns or his leadership PAC, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Data show that the donation to Manchin’s committee marks the first known time Langone has donated to a Democrat since he contributed to Bill Daley’s Chicago mayoral campaign during the 2019 election. Daley came in third, failing to make the runoff. Lori Lightfoot, who positioned herself as more progressive than Daley, won.

Representatives for Manchin and his PAC did not return requests for comment before publication. A call placed to Langone’s investment firm was not returned.

Langone was once a big Trump supporter of former President Donald Trump. He told CNBC in 2016 he would back Trump’s initial candidacy for the White House but that he was done with political fundraising. He later endorsed Trump’s economic policies, including tariffs on Chinese goods.

Then Langone took aim at the former president after Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to stop Congress from confirming Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

Records show that some of Langone’s most recent big money donations includes $1 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that works to defeat Democratic candidates running for Senate, and $500,000 to Americans for Prosperity Action, a group supported by the Republican-friendly Koch family.

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