Donald Trump Begins to Grovel
Donald Trump has always insisted that he can’t be bought: A key aspect of his appeal is the independence granted by his purportedly vast wealth. And while Hillary Clinton is also demonstrably wealthy, Trump continues to insist that she is not only corruptible but corrupt. “She’s got to do right for her donors,” he told voters at a rally in Ohio last week. “I’m going to do right for you.” His refusal to disclose his tax returns and his disingenuous explanation for why he can’t do so, however, put the lie to this claim—as does his refusal, now, to disclose the names of people who are helping him close the fundraising gap.
Over the weekend, Politico reports, Trump attended two “high-dollar soirees” in Nantucket and Cape Cod, including one at the home of a Koch brother who isn’t Charles or David, where the co-hosts received six tickets to a VIP reception and photograph with the Republican nominee as thanks for raising at least $100,000. Because there is a $2,700 limit on contributions to political campaigns, fundraisers, referred to as “bundlers,” who can tap networks of friends and business associates for money are very valuable—individual contributions must be disclosed, but the only bundlers who must be identified are those who are also registered as federal lobbyists.
Trump had not disclosed any such bundlers through June—or, actually, any at all. Clinton, meanwhile, has named 499 bundlers (including lobbyists) who have raised at least $100,000 for her campaign. From Politico:
So far, Clinton’s political operation has outraised Trump, announcing a $90 million haul in July between her campaign and the Democratic Party. But Trump said last week that he had raised about $80 million between his campaign and various GOP committees, boasting, in particular, about the $64 million in smaller digital and direct-mail donations.
But despite Trump’s rhetorical focus on small-dollar contributors, he is still dependent on bundlers and six-figure political donors. In his Trump Victory joint fundraising account, which raised $25 million from late May through the end of June, roughly half the funds came from only 25 families.
Throughout primary season, Trump boasted that he was “self-funding” his campaign, a claim that was only ever partially true, and to the extent that was true was only so because he couldn’t get the big establishment backers—at least at first—to support him.
Last year, when he was still working to denigrate Florida senator Marco Rubio, Trump tweeted, “Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!” But in May, Trump ate dinner with the conservative financier and his wife in Manhattan, and last month at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland he made sure to stop by their private suite at the Quicken Loans Arena.
The Adelson's with their choice for President! pic.twitter.com/gYsHBeT9AS— Andy Abboud (@AndyAbboud) July 21, 2016
“She’s totally controlled by the special interests,” Trump said of Clinton last week. Maybe so! But if she is, then so is he.