L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, whom commentators tried to tie to the Republican party immediately after his alleged racist statements became public, has in fact only given money to Democratic candidates, according to campaign-contribution records.
Sterling is in hot water after TMZ released recordings purporting to be a weird psychosexual rant he directed at girlfriend V. Stiviano, accusing her of publicly associating with black people. The highly offensive comments have drawn condemnation from across the National Basketball Association as well as from many other sources; and inevitably, attempts have been made to link him to the Republican party.
Claims about Sterling’s party appear to be based on campaign contribution records for a different Sterling, who lives in the state of Texas. Clippers owner Donald Sterling lives in Beverly Hills, has a long history of bigoted behavior in his Los Angeles business dealings, and according to a 2011 RealGM report, was a very occasional Democratic donor in the 1990s:
Donald Sterling, Los Angeles Clippers
Records show Sterling has donated just $6,000, with no activity since the early 1990s. He supported Gray Davis early in his career, as well as Bill Bradley.
Bradley was a Hall of Fame forward for the New York Knicks before becoming a U.S. senator from New Jersey and an unsuccessful presidential candidate. Davis made out with Cybill Shepherd in the 1960s before becoming California’s 37th governor and the first Golden State executive ever to be recalled.
At the time TMZ released its recording, Sterling was scheduled to receive a lifetime achievement award from the NAACP.
Sterling does not appear to have given any political donations since the 1990s.
Presuming the recordings are authentic, Sterling’s fixations appear to be strangely selective. At one point he fumes about Stiviano’s associating with Magic Johnson, not on the grounds that Magic is a former Laker but because Sterling believes she is publicizing her friendship with the beloved Los Angeles icon:
Admire him — bring him here, feed him, f*** him, I don’t care. You can do anything. But don’t put him on an Instagram for the world to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.
In another section Sterling reiterates that he is untroubled by the prospect of Stiviano’s sleeping with black men — an ancient point of agitation for white racists — but doesn’t want her to post pictures of blacks on Instagram:
You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that . . . and not to bring them to my games.
Sterling made his fortune as a divorce and personal injury lawyer and Southern California real-estate developer. He is reported to be worth $1.9 billion.
Update: An earlier version of this post identified Sterling as a Democrat. Although his political donations appear to have been exclusively to Democrats, a search of the L.A. County Registrar/Record confirms that he is a registered Republican. A Clippers representative did not respond to requests for comment.