Federal election filings also show that Crow has donated to the presidential campaigns of Republicans Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, and Ron DeSantis as well as the centrist No Labels group, which is considering fielding a bipartisan presidential ticket. This again raises concerns about major Republican donors providing funds to third-party candidates in 2024 who could potentially draw enough votes from President Joe Biden to throw a close election to Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
In 2020, less than 2% of voters actually voted for a candidate other than Biden or Trump. But an NBC News poll last month found that 14% of registered voters might vote for a third-party or independent candidate in 2024, narrowly tipping the race to Trump.
But that apparently does not bother West. NBC News reported that “West has defended his campaign from questions about whether it would draw support from President Joe Biden, calling the two-party system an ‘impediment for the flower of American democracy’ during an interview with NBC News’ ‘Meet the Press Now.’”
Crow’s donation was received on Aug. 7, when West was seeking the Green Party nomination. He declared earlier this month that he was splitting from the Green Party to run as an independent presidential candidate.
After NBC News broke the news about Crow’s donation on Wednesday, West was initially defiant in the face of criticism that he had received a donation from Justice Thomas’ right-wing billionaire benefactor. West, in a post Thursday on X, formerly known as Twitter, wrote:
“As an Independent candidate and a free Black man, I accept donations within the limits of no PACs or corporate interest groups that have strings attached. I am unbought and unbossed. Despite my deep political differences with brother Harlan Crow (who is an anti-Trump Republican), I’ve known him in a nonpolitical setting for some years and I pray for his precious family. I find it hypocritical for those who highlight his $3300 donation to my campaign but can’t say a mumbling word about the PAC-driven billion dollars to support the genocidal attack in Gaza sponsored by their candidate! I’m fighting for Truth, Justice, and Love! Onward!”
But on Friday, in another post on X, West said he was reluctantly returning the donation to Crow. He wrote:
“How sad that perceptions so quickly triumph over truth in our decadent culture. This holds in our major catastrophe in the Middle East where the rich humanity of Palestinians is rendered invisible. It also holds at home in the minor scandal about Harlan Crow’s donation to my campaign. He is a staunch anti-Trump Republican who has “Never Forget” collections of tyrants (Stalin, Mao, Hitler, and many others) and patriotic collections of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. Does this disqualify him from contributing to my campaign? Most people holler yes, I say no. As a jazzman, I listened and decided to give the money back to brother Harlan – but still state the truth!“
In a Wall Street Journal interview in April, Crow said that West was among the speakers who had appeared at debates at Old Parkland, an Americana-themed office park and research campus in Dallas owned by Crow. “We’ve had Cornel West—he’s a good friend,” Crow said.
Crow’s close ties to Thomas were exposed last April in a ProPublica report that described the luxury gifts, vacation trips, and other valuable benefits provided by the Texas real estate developer to Thomas and his family. The disclosures raised ethics concerns about conservative justices Thomas and Samuel Alito, and their links to right-wing billionaires.
A review of Crow’s campaign donations shows that he is strongly conservative but not enamored of Trump. Slate reported:
In an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Crow said he considers himself a “center-right Republican” who believes in bipartisanship and a good debate—though Republicans have received the majority of his money. (On the other side of the aisle, he’s donated to conservative Democrats, like the group that ended up killing the Build Back Better Act).
The New Republic reported that, between 2019 and 2021, Crow donated over $130,000 to No Labels—a third-party group that claims to promote a more moderate alternative to the two major political parties, but who critics say basically just exists to get Donald Trump elected in 2024 by taking votes away from President Joe Biden.
Crow appears not to be especially keen on Donald Trump, though—he donated $100,000 to the Our Principles PAC back in 2016, a group created specifically to prevent Trump from being elected.