Frank Dunlevy, Gary Cohn host campaign fundraiser for Tim Scott in the Hamptons

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Tim Scott speaks at the “Roast and Ride” event hosted by U.S. Senator Joni Ernst while campaigning in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. June 3, 2023. 

Dave Kaup | Reuters

Republican Sen. Tim Scott huddled with over 50 donors at the Hamptons home of Wall Street veteran and former Trump administration official Frank Dunlevy on Wednesday night, according to people familiar with the matter.

The fundraising event for Scott’s presidential campaign, which was first reported on by CNBC last month, was held in the backyard of Dunlevy’s East Hampton property.

Dunlevy, a vice chair of investment banking at TD Cowen, was not listed on the invite. In fact, when CNBC reached out to Dunlevy before the party this week, he tried to dispute whether the fundraiser was at his house.

But invitees later confirmed the location was Dunlevy’s house, and one attendee noted he mingled with guests. Dunlevy did not return multiple follow up calls and emails from CNBC. Dunlevy lent his backyard to the official listed hosts of the Scott event, another person explained.

The property features a massive swimming pool behind the house and a wrap around driveway, just a five minute walk from the picturesque East Hampton beaches.

Individual tickets cost from $1,000 to $5,000, according to the invitation. Couples tickets were $10,000.

Also attending the party was Gary Cohn, who served as director of the National Economic Council in 2017-18. Cohn was listed as a co-host on the invitation.

Gary Cohn, Vice Chairman, IBM, speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference on October 19, 2021 in Beverly Hills, California.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

Cohn and Dunlevy are not the only wealthy Republicans who served in the Trump administration and who now appear to be backing one of Trump’s rivals.

A super PAC benefitting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently reported a $50,000 contribution from the Orlando Magic, a team owned by the billionaire DeVos family. The donation raised eyebrows because the family matriarch, Betsy DeVos, was Trump’s Secretary of Education.

Reached for comment, a spokesperson told CNBC that the DeVos’ have not decided who to back in the 2024 GOP primary.

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Dunlevy held two posts during the Trump administration. Starting in 2018, he was a counselor to the CEO of the International Development Finance Corporation, formerly known as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, or OPIC.

He later joined the State Department, where he was chief banking officer and senior advisor for Keith Krach, Trump’s under secretary of economic growth, energy and environment.

Near the end of his time in office, Trump nominated Dunlevy to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, but President Joe Biden withdrew his nomination.

Dunlevy has previously donated to the Republican National Committee, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s 2016 campaign for president and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign for president.

Despite Trump’s dominance in the polls, events like the Scott fundraiser reflect a broader reluctance of among traditional Republican donors to get on board with Trump’s push to be the party’s nominee in 2024.

The former president is currently facing 78 criminal counts in three cases, with a fourth indictment widely to come expected next week. To pay for a small army of lawyers, Trump is relying on his political operation, which this year alone has spent more than $26 million on legal fees.

While Trump burns through contributions, Scott has spent his campaign money conservatively, by contrast.

Tied for third place in the latest New York Times poll after the former president and DeSantis, Scott nonetheless raised $7 million in the second quarter of this year.

At the end of July, Scott’s political operation reported having north of $21 million in cash on hand, according to federal campaign filings. This was only slightly less than the $22.5 million Trump’s own campaign reported in cash.

A spokesman for Scott’s campaign did not return a request for comment on the event and how much it raised for his presidential bid.

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