Judging by Donald J. Trump’s personal campaign donations in New York state, Republicans and conservatives should expect to have his support about 40 percent of the time. And Democrats should look forward to having Trump in their corner about 58 percent of the time.
That is almost exactly what happened when the real-estate magnate and Republican presidential front-runner whipped out his checkbook and distributed his campaign cash.
(For more details on Trump’s donations, please see this spreadsheet.)
Trump’s specific donations to parties, organizations, and candidates reveal considerable generosity to Democrats, liberals, and numerous politicians who have landed in deep ethical trouble or actually been convicted of corruption. Highlights follow.
Trump backed Democrat-party organs in the Empire State, including $66,000 to the New York Democratic Party, $10,600 to the New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, and $2,000 to the New York County (Manhattan) Democrat Party.
Trump made nine donations to incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo, totaling $64,000, for his campaigns for governor and attorney general. Cuomo is pressing for a statewide $15-per-hour minimum wage and could be a Democratic presidential hopeful as soon as 2020. A federal judge in December 2013 struck down a provision of Cuomo’s vaunted anti-gun SAFE Act that had banned ten-bullet magazines from being loaded with more than seven rounds.
Trump gave $53,100 to current U.S. representative Kathleen Rice of Long Island across seven gifts. These included $28,100 for her campaigns for Nassau County district attorney and $25,000 for her state attorney-general bid. The former, in particular, seems like an unusually high amount for a Manhattan real-estate tycoon to funnel into a county DA race. Rice, an outspoken gun-control advocate, made history by barring her staff prosecutors from bearing handguns, even at home.
Interestingly enough, Rice co-chaired Cuomo’s anti-corruption Moreland Commission, which Cuomo disbanded after it started asking questions about his activities.
Trump contributed seven donations to Alan Hevesi, totaling $48,000. The former New York state comptroller served 20 months in prison for a variety of graft schemes.
Trump delivered $41,000 to Elliott Spitzer, an aggressive anti–Wall Street attorney general who rose to governor in January 2007. Spitzer tumbled from grace and resigned in March 2008 after becoming ensnared in a call-girl scandal. Nicknamed Client 9, the then-married Spitzer traveled from New York to Washington, D.C., for sexual trysts at the Mayflower Hotel with a prostitute named Ashley Dupre.
Trump sent Attorney General Eric Schneiderman a check for $12,500. Rather than allow grown adults to enjoy themselves and hurt no one by using private fantasy sports websites, the paternalistic Schneiderman has banned DraftKings and Fan Duel from operating within New York State. (Meanwhile, Schneiderman last Tuesday received an appellate court’s permission to proceed to trial with his $40 million fraud lawsuit against Trump for allegedly shaking down some 5,000 former students of Trump University.)
Trump contributed $5,000 in 2002 to the Committee for Leadership and Progress, a group that funds Democratic candidates. It, in turn, paid $25,000 that year in consulting fees to strategist Howard Wolfson. He was communications director for the U.S. Senate bids of Chuck Schumer in 1998 and Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2000.
Trump supplied $2,400 to disgraced ex-assemblyman Brian McLaughlin of Queens. The former officeholder and labor leader was sentenced to ten years in prison after pleading guilty to $3.1 million in theft from legislators, contractors, and his own union. He even swiped $90,085 from the Electchester Athletic Association Little League. After he learned that a team leader honestly tried to purchase $2,800 in softball gear, McLaughlin erupted: “All that f*****g money he’s f*****g spending on other stuff, that ain’t his money,” McLaughlin roared. “That’s mine.”
Trump furnished $2,000 to 22-term U.S. representative Charles Rangel of Harlem. In December 2010, the House voted 333-79 to censure Rangel for eleven violations of House ethics restrictions and other federal rules.
• Trump paid $1,000 to SpeakerPAC, a campaign war chest of former assembly speaker Sheldon Silver. He faces potentially 130 years behind bars after his November 30 conviction on all seven counts of a federal indictment for fraud, blackmail, and money laundering.
Trump directed funds to Republican-party campaign organizations, including $89,000 to the New York Republican Senate Committee, $10,000 to the Republican Party State Committee, $5,000 to the Westchester County Republican Party, and $250 to the Republican State Assembly Committee. (The latter is just one quarter of what Trump sent former speaker Silver, who rode herd over GOP Assembly members.)
Trump sent seven checks, totaling $12,500, to former state senator Joseph Bruno. He was convicted of two counts of mail and wire fraud in December 2009, although his conviction was overturned on appeal. Bruno’s second corruption trial resulted in acquittal.
Trump forwarded 15 gifts, equal to $7,150, to former state senator Nicholas A. Spano. He pleaded guilty in February 2012 to filing fraudulent federal tax returns and has spent at least eight months in two federal lock-ups.
Trump gave $5,000 to Dan Donovan, the 2010 Republican nominee for state attorney general. In that race, Trump distributed two and a half times that much to Democrat Eric Schneiderman. He won that seat, with the help of Trump’s $12,500. Trump gave the Republican 28.6 percent of his spending in this race. The Democrat received 71.4 percent and prevailed.“I support politicians,” Donald J. Trump explained at last Thursday’s Republican debate in Detroit, after being challenged on his campaign checks to Democrats. “In 2008, I supported Hillary Clinton. I supported many other people, by the way. And that was because of the fact that I’m in business.”
GOP primary voters should ask themselves if they really want to hand the Republican presidential nomination to someone who embraces cronyism, shovels 58 percent of his campaign gifts to Empire State Democrats, and backs politicians of both parties who wind up behind bars.