U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), the latest Republican candidate for the House of Representatives, talks to reporters ahead of another round of voting for Speaker of the House on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 25, 2023.
Nathan Howard | Reuters
The new Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, has quietly assembled a group of wealthy Louisiana political financiers who could become major players in the Republican Party’s fundraising under Johnson’s chairmanship.
“I’m sure if you’re a major donor and you’re a figure in Louisiana, you now feel like you have a lot of influence,” a lobbyist close to Johnson told CNBC. The person was granted anonymity to speak freely about private donor matters.
Johnson’s election last week has reportedly already given a boost to the National Republican Congressional Committee, the official campaign arm of Republicans in the House of Representatives. On October 27, Johnson’s first full day as speaker, the NRCC raised $175,000, according to Politico. It was the group’s best online fundraising day in more than a year and a half.
In addition to the speakership, Johnson also served as chief fundraiser for the House Republicans. But it won’t be easy to fill the shoes of former speaker Kevin McCarthy, a prolific fundraiser.
During the 2022 midterm cycle, a super PAC aligned with McCarthy, the Congressional Leadership Fund, raised $350 million.
During that same period, Johnson’s campaign and political action committee together raised just over $1.5 million. That total is far less than many other members of the House of Representatives, who raised an average of $3.51 million in that cycle, according to OpenSecrets.
With Johnson under pressure to raise millions of dollars for the 2024 House races, his circle of Louisiana’s top Republican donors could be asked to step up.
One of them is shipyard magnate Donald “Boysie” Bollinger, a longtime supporter of Johnson and the Republican party.
Bollinger is widely seen as one of the most influential Republican political donors in Louisiana. He served as state finance chairman for the presidential campaigns of Presidents Donald Trump, George HW Bush, George W. Bush and former Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.
U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) speaks to reporters as he arrives for a vote in the U.S. Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 10, 2021.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
Johnson’s campaign reported a $6,600 donation from Bollinger in February, according to Federal Election Commission data. Bollinger gave the campaign $4,800 in 2022, according to the records.
Bollinger did not return a request for comment. He has given more than $47,000 to the NRCC so far this cycle, with a February check coming through a joint fundraising account of House Majority Leader Steve Scalie, R-La., according to an FEC record.
A representative from Johnson’s congressional office referred CNBC to the speaker’s campaign. A spokesperson for Johnson’s campaign did not return a request for comment.
Earlier this year, Bollinger reportedly co-hosted a fundraiser to benefit former President Donald Trump’s campaign.
He also served as Trump’s co-financing chairman in Louisiana during the 2020 election.
The other co-funding chair was Joseph Canizaro, also a major Republican donor in Louisiana. That same year, federal records show Canizaro contributed $4,600 to Johnson’s reelection effort.
Canizaro has been a commercial real estate titan in New Orleans for decades.
In 2019, Canizaro and Bollinger reportedly raised $4 million for Trump’s campaign in a single evening with a single fundraiser.
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for a Make America Great Again rally at Fayetteville Regional Airport on November 2, 2020 in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
Canizaro did not return a request for comment. The real estate executive has contributed more than $38,000 to the NRCC so far this cycle, according to an FEC record.
Many of Johnson’s top donors come from the oil and gas industry, according to data from the nonpartisan OpenSecrets. Individuals working in the industry have donated more than $330,000 to Johnson’s campaigns since he first ran for Congress.
Johnson’s joint fundraising committee, the Johnson Leadership Fund, received $25,000 in 2021 from John Atkins, a partner at Louisiana-based Atco Investment Company, according to FEC records.
According to Atkins’ website, the company invests, at least in part, in the oil and gas sector. According to OpenSecrets, Atco employees have collectively donated just over $40,000 to Johnson’s successful re-election efforts.
Atkins did not return a request for comment.
Employees of the oil and gas exploration company Will-Drill Resources have also been major contributors to Johnson’s campaigns, contributing a combined $43,000 since his first run for Congress.
Allen Williams, the vice president of Will-Drill, has donated more than $8,000 to Johnson’s re-election campaign account since 2016, according to FEC records. Williams did not return a request for comment.