Ancestry chair, Cooper frat brother, big new donor for NC Democrats

Posted May 9, 2018 5:39 p.m. EDT
Updated May 9, 2018 6:14 p.m. EDT

State budget

— The North Carolina Democratic Party's biggest donor so far this year is the former chief executive of Match.com and Ancestry, as well as one of Gov. Roy Cooper's fraternity brothers.

Tim Sullivan, who headed both the dating website and the DNA testing genealogy company before moving to chair Ancestry's corporate board last year, gave the state party $250,000 on Jan. 22. He's given to the governor's campaign in the past and donated this year to the party's effort to break the Republican legislative majority, Cooper campaign strategist Morgan Jackson said.

Both men were Morehead Scholars at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, though they graduated in different years.

Other six-figure donors in the Democratic Party's first-quarter filing, which posted last week:

  • Virginia Sall, the wife of SAS co-founder John Sall, $115,000.
  • Lonna Harkrader, of real estate developer Harkrader, $101,000.
  • Todd McGowan, CEO of Haddock Collision Centers, $100,000.

Greg Lindberg, the owner of an international investment firm headquartered in Durham, continues to be one of the North Carolina Republican Party's biggest donors. Lindberg gave the party $100,000 on Jan. 3. That was on top of the $890,000 he gave in 2017, which made him, far and away, the party's biggest giver that year.

Lindberg gave a total of nearly $3.4 million to North Carolina Republicans last year, with most of it going to fundraising entities tied to Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

Also up there on the state GOP's list of top donors this quarter:

  • James Goodnight, another co-founder of SAS, who gave $99,999.99 during the quarter and followed that up with another $50,000 May 1.
  • Joe Sanderson, who lives in Mississippi and is the head of the Sanderson Farms poultry company, $50,000.
  • Ronald Cameron, the head of Mountaire, also a poultry company, who lives in Little Rock, Ark., $40,000.

All three have been major Republican donors in the past. Mountaire was involved two years ago in a land deal with House Speaker Tim Moore that triggered an ethics complaint earlier this year.