POLITICS

Want To Know Who’s Raising Money For Trump? Well, You Can’t.

The Republican nominee is refusing to disclose basic fundraising details that Clinton does and past GOP nominees did as a routine matter.

03/10/2016 11:41 PM AEDT | Updated 03/10/2016 11:42 PM AEDT
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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tells his audience in Manheim, Pennsylvania, Saturday that he pays for his campaign with his own money and with small donations. His statement is not true.

WASHINGTON ― Donald Trump held a high-dollar fundraiser in Chicago last week. Then another two in Michigan. And then another one in New Jersey on Saturday.

Want to know who hosted them? How many people showed up? What the minimum donation was? Well, too bad. It’s none of your business.

At least that’s how the Republican presidential nominee and the Republican National Committee see it, repudiating years of standard practice by both GOP and Democratic presidential nominees ― and undercutting a key Republican attack against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for her secretiveness.

“Any other answer than they simply don’t care would be over-analyzing it,” said Kevin Madden, a top adviser to 2012 nominee Mitt Romney. “That’s always been a core argument of Trump critics even inside the party: that he’s the one candidate who actually makes a debate with Clinton over issues of trust and transparency a competitive one. It shouldn’t be close.”

Clinton’s campaign after each fundraising event discloses the name and location of the host, the minimum donation and the number of attendees. Clinton further releases a list of her “bundlers,” those supporters who collect donations on her behalf ― another common practice that Trump is not doing.

He’s the one candidate who actually makes a debate with Clinton over issues of trust and transparency a competitive one. It shouldn’t be close.” Kevin Madden, former top aide to Mitt Romney

“The Trump campaign doesn’t seem to care about the perception that this undermines their ability to prosecute Hillary Clinton’s lack of transparency,” said fellow Romney 2012 alumnus Ryan Williams. “This is a candidate who hasn’t even released his tax returns ― a much bigger issue than disclosing information about fundraisers.”

Indeed, with his refusal to disclose his financial history, his unwillingness to permit a small contingent of journalists to accompany him on all his travels and his opaque fundraising, Trump has actually become the least transparent, most secretive nominee in the post-Watergate era.

Trump’s campaign did not respond to queries from The Huffington Post about why it was not disclosing fundraising details. One top RNC official promised “to look into” the question, but never followed up with an answer.

The Clinton campaign began releasing information about its fundraising events right from its start in April 2015. On Friday evening, for example, Clinton held a fundraiser at the Miami Beach home of Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, the campaign reported. The minimum contribution was $10,000, while “chairs” had to donate or contribute $100,000 per couple. About 130 people attended.

The campaign has sent out 98 such fundraising reports to the media in the past six weeks alone. The Clinton campaign also lists all of its bundlers who have raised or contributed $100,000 or more on its website, even though the law only requires disclosure of bundlers who are registered lobbyists.

Trump’s campaign didn’t file a lobbyist bundling report for the second quarter with the Federal Election Commission. Nor does it make any effort to disclose its non-lobbyist bundlers on its website.

Because the names, amounts, and locations would undermine the narrative that he is the friend of Joe Lunchbucket, beholden to no one, and the sworn enemy of special interests." Mac Stipanovich, Florida GOP consultant

Texas GOP consultant Matt Mackowiak said the Trump campaign’s reluctance to disclose event details might be based on the hosts’ preference to remain secret.

“My strong suspicion is that the Trump campaign has had difficulty finding hosts for fundraising events, because when a name is publicly revealed, that person faces threats, harassment and boycotts, as one restaurant owner did in Dallas during the summer,” Mackowiak said.

Other Republicans have a different take. Mac Stipanovich, a longtime Florida GOP lobbyist and bundler who does not support Trump, said revealing that he’s raising big money from the usual donors goes against the myth Trump has been selling. “Because the names, amounts, and locations would undermine the narrative that he is the friend of Joe Lunchbucket, beholden to no one, and the sworn enemy of special interests,” Stipanovich said.

That’s clearly the storyline Trump puts out to his supporters. “Our campaign is taking on big business, big media and big donors,” Trump told his audience at a Pennsylvania rally Saturday night. “My campaign is powered by my money. My money. And by small-dollar donations from hardworking patriots like all of you.”

In reality, little of that statement is true. Trump has scaled back his personal donations to his campaign. While he spent $50 million of his own money during the primaries supplemented by the sale of hats and other souvenirs, Trump is putting about $2 million a month now into his own campaign, while donors are kicking in the rest. Of the $90 million Trump and the RNC raised in August, $88 million came from other people.

And while Trump has been getting strong support from those giving small donations, he’s also been soliciting and receiving five-figure, even six-figure, checks from the “big business” and “big donors” that he trashes.

Of the donations to Trump’s joint committees with the party that were transferred to the RNC through the end of August, 75 percent of the $20.1 million came from just 601 donors who gave $10,000 and above, according to a Huffington Post analysis of FEC filings.

Of the donations to Trump’s joint committees with the party that were transferred to the RNC through the end of August, 75 percent of the $20.1 million came from just 601 donors who gave $10,000 and above, according to a Huffington Post analysis of FEC filings.

Trump has had a fundraiser hosted for him by Robert Murray, the owner of a coal mining company cited for numerous safety violations. He has accepted money from the political action committee of GEO, the private prison company. He’s taken big checks from gambling interests, lobbyists, developers and financial services executives, among many others.

His habit of doing so came as a surprise to at least one Trump supporter recently.

“He’s taking money from lobbyists?” said Amanda Middleton, 35, who brought her 17-year-old son to a recent Trump rally in Toledo. “I’ve never even heard that, and I watch politics 24/7.”

Most voters, much less most Trump supporters, though, are not likely to care, said another anti-Trump Republican. “I don’t think it hurts,” said Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party who said he’s been amazed how little a campaign finance scandal seems to have mattered in a congressional race there. “It’s been informative how few people care and how many shrug and say they all do it.”

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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