Person

Fred Eychaner

Born:

1945

Nationality:

American

Occupation:

Businessman

Political Party:

Democratic Party

Main Philanthropy:

Alphawood Foundation

Fred Eychaner is an American entrepreneur and political donor. In 1971, he founded Newsweb Corporation, which prints a variety of newspapers. He is president of the Alphawood Foundation, a Chicago-based charitable organization. The Chicago-based billionaire has been described as “reclusive,” but is well known as a top donor to Democratic Party and LGBT-interest causes.[1]

Typically described as “reclusive” or “secretive,” Eychaner has been actively supporting Democratic causes out of the spotlight. He ranks fifth nationally among lifetime donors to the Democratic National Committee.[2] In the 2016 elections, he was reportedly the fourth-most-prolific political contributor, a status President Barack Obama rewarded by appointing Eychaner to a six-year term on the board of the Kennedy Center.[3]

Early Life

Fred Eychaner was born to Mildred (Lovett) and Howard Eychaner in 1945. [4] His family was middle class and Methodist. His father owned a small business. Eychaner has three siblings, all younger.

He attended the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to entering college, he said that he leaned Republican, but he said that his views changed after leaving school. [5] In the late 1980s, he came out to his Republican parents as gay. His parents went on to start a local chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). [6]

Career

Eychaner earned his wealth from media outlets; first print, and then radio and television. In 1971, Eychaner founded Newsweb Corporation. In 2002, he sold WPWR-Channel 50 in Chicago for $425 million to Fox Television, which generated much of his personal wealth. [7] As of 2017, Eychaner remained chairman of the company; Catherine Danz was named Newsweb CEO in early 2018.[8][9]

Political Activities

In 2004, Eychaner gave at least $3.2 million to Democratic causes and candidates. [10] In the 2008 election cycle, Eychaner originally supported then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), but when then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) received the nomination, he supported the Democratic nominee. In 2012, he gave $500,000 to President Obama’s reelection effort and $3.5 million to Priorities USA, which also backed Obama. [11]

During the 2012 cycle, Eychaner also contributed $4.3 million to the Senate Majority PAC and $4.25 million to the house Majority PAC. [12]

In May of 2015, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Eychaner’s home in Chicago for a fundraising event. Clinton left with $250,000 in donations. [13] As of 2014, he had given more than $25 million to the Clinton Foundation. [14]

Despite staunchly opposing the Citizens United decision, Eychaner was the biggest Democratic super PAC donor of the 2012 election cycle, fourth overall among political donors that year from either party. [15] According to the Federal Election Commission, Eychaner’s soft money donations from 2011 to 2015 totaled $22,520,000.

Philanthropy

Eychaner is president of the Alphawood Foundation, which awards grants primarily to advocacy organizations for preservation, arts, and promotion of LGBT rights. [16]

Eychaner has also been known to personally give to AIDS research. [17] National Journal reported that Eychaner is the single largest donor to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. [18]

 

Awards

In April 2014, the gay rights group Lambda Legal presented Eychaner with a lifetime achievement award in Chicago. [19]

References

  1. McCormick, John. “Reclusive Chicago Multimillionaire Throwing Fundraiser for Hillary Clinton Tonight.” Bloomberg.com. May 20, 2015. Accessed October 18, 2017. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-20/reclusive-chicago-donor-primed-to-back-clinton-s-second-bid
  2. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “The Democrats’ Mystery Man: Fred Eychaner.” Capital Research Center. September 3, 2015. Accessed October 18, 2017. https://capitalresearch.org/2015/09/the-democrats-mystery-man-fred-eychaner/
  3. Janssen, Kim. “Dem donor Eychaner will keep plum D.C. appointment through Trump presidency.” Chicagotribune.com. November 22, 2016. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-fred-eychaner-kennedy-center-obama-1123-chicago-inc-20161122-story.html
  4. Harris, Melissa. “Democratic donor Fred Eychaner opens up.” Chicago Tribune. May 01, 2014. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-05-01/business/ct-eychaner-lockett-confidential-0501-biz-20140501_1_pflag-donor-ed-burke
  5. McCormick, John. “Fred Eychaner.” Chicago Tribune. June 07, 2005. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2005-06-07/news/0506070274_1_gay-rights-activist-politics-fred-eychaner
  6. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “The Democrats’ Mystery Man: Fred Eychaner.” Capital Research Center. September 3, 2015. Accessed October 18, 2017. https://capitalresearch.org/2015/09/the-democrats-mystery-man-fred-eychaner/
  7. “Fred Eychaner.” THE RISE & RISE OF WPWR. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://chicagotelevision.com/wpwr.htm
  8. Feder, Robert. “Fred Eychaner Realigns Newsweb Management.” Robertfeder.com. December 11, 2017. Accessed July 08, 2019. https://www.robertfeder.com/2017/12/11/fred-eychaner-realigns-newsweb-management/.
  9. “Catherine Danz.” Crain’s Chicago Business. January 15, 2018. Accessed July 08, 2019. https://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/people-on-the-move/3486705.
  10. McCormick, John. “Fred Eychaner.” Chicago Tribune. June 07, 2005. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2005-06-07/news/0506070274_1_gay-rights-activist-politics-fred-eychaner  
  11. “Obama Investment in Chicago Donor Pays Off.” Washington Free Beacon. December 10, 2012. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/politics/obama-investment-in-chicago-donor-pays-off/ 
  12. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “The Democrats’ Mystery Man: Fred Eychaner.” Capital Research Center. September 3, 2015. Accessed October 18, 2017. https://capitalresearch.org/2015/09/the-democrats-mystery-man-fred-eychaner/  
  13. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “The Democrats’ Mystery Man: Fred Eychaner.” Capital Research Center. September 3, 2015. Accessed October 18, 2017. https://capitalresearch.org/2015/09/the-democrats-mystery-man-fred-eychaner/  
  14. “Fred Eychaner.” Chicago Magazine. March 2014. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/March-2014/power-fred-eychaner/ 
  15. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “The Democrats’ Mystery Man: Fred Eychaner.” Capital Research Center. September 3, 2015. Accessed October 18, 2017. https://capitalresearch.org/2015/09/the-democrats-mystery-man-fred-eychaner/
  16. “SOAS given £20m donation from Alphawood foundation.” BBC News. November 02, 2013. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-24778886
  17. McCormick, John. “Fred Eychaner.” Chicago Tribune. June 07, 2005. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2005-06-07/news/0506070274_1_gay-rights-activist-politics-fred-eychaner
  18. Lucas, Barbara Joanna. “The Democrats’ Mystery Man: Fred Eychaner.” Capital Research Center. September 3, 2015. Accessed October 18, 2017. https://capitalresearch.org/2015/09/the-democrats-mystery-man-fred-eychaner/
  19. aim, Tracy, and Gretchen Rachel Blickensderfer. “Lambda Legal Bon Foster benefit honors Fred Eychaner – Gay Lesbian Bi Trans News Archive.” Windy City Times. April 23, 2014. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Lambda-Legal-Bon-Foster-benefit-honors-Fred-Eychaner/47175.html 
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