Donald Trump's road to raising $1 billion for the general election just got a lot smoother.
A group of 20 Republican donors, a who's who of the party's financing apparatus, pledged Tuesday to help bring in cash to fund Trump's run for the White House. The announcement could help quell predictions that Trump wouldn't get enough support from traditional GOP donors and bundlers, many of whom have been openly critical of him up to now.
A joint press release from the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee listing the donors came as the candidate holds his first two fundraisers in coordination with the RNC—Tuesday night in New Mexico and the following night in California. Guests for the two events have already committed to give more than $5 million combined, Trump aides told Bloomberg Politics.
Other well-heeled supporters are starting to line up behind the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. According to Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, more than 40 influential Republicans have called the campaign offering to host bashes for Trump in the coming weeks in the Hamptons, Manhattan, Philadelphia, Connecticut, Texas, and elsewhere.
Trump’s 20-member lineup for his new fundraising “victory” team includes Republicans with ties to evangelicals, Wall Street, the donor networks of libertarian-conservative brothers Charles and David Koch, as well as the Bush political dynasty. It also includes supporters of Trump's former Republican presidential rivals, including Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker, plus some Palm Beach Republicans and a former member of the anti-Trump movement within the party's donor class.
One donor is a venture capitalist who pleaded guilty to pay-to-play charges in 2009, a history that could raise hackles among some Bernie Sanders supporters Trump hopes to recruit. But for the most part, the list represents an impressive start, several strategists said.
“This is a really good list. Those are all good people,” said Ben Ginsberg, a GOP lawyer and longtime party insider. “It’s a good core group.”
Several operatives said the Republican donor class has now come to grips with the fact that it's unlikely that a third-party candidate will be able to drop in and topple either presumptive nominee—Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton. They predicted that many of the key GOP fundraisers will soon climb aboard the campaign.
“A huge majority of major donors I have spoken to from both Texas and California are gravitating towards Trump,” said Jeff Miller, who was chief strategist for Rick Perry’s presidential campaign until he exited the race. Perry has endorsed Trump.
In Tuesday's announcement about what it dubbed the “Trump Victory Committee,” the Republican National Committee said the 20 people will raise money for the Trump campaign, as well as local and national parties.
The six vice chairs are venture capitalist Elliott Broidy, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, chairwoman of building material provider ABC Supply Co. Diane Hendricks, shopping mall developer Mel Sembler, developer Ray Washburne, and real estate investor Ronald Weiser.
And 12 more notable donors will help out: Liz Uihlein, Charles Urstadt, Wilbur Ross, Dee and Andy Puzder, Howard Leach, Michael Kojiaian, Karen Iacovelli, Sam Fox, Diana and Llwyd Ecclestone, Kelly and Joe Craft and Hushang Ansary.
Some may help boost giving from the donor networks of various former candidates. Sembler, Ansary and Fox were Jeb Bush backers, while Hendricks was with Walker, Washburne supported Christie, and the Crafts backed Rubio.
Broidy was a major fundraiser for George W. Bush, raising more than $300,000 for his 2004 campaign, and for John McCain's 2008 bid, when he raised more than $500,000. His political activity was interrupted when he pleaded guilty in late 2009 to bribing four state officials who oversaw the New York state pension fund. His charge was reduced to a misdemeanor in 2012 in exchange for his cooperation with prosecutors. In 2015, Broidy waded back into political giving with a $2,700 contribution to the presidential campaign of Lindsay Graham. In April, he co-hosted a fundraiser for Ted Cruz at the Harvard Club of New York.
Ross, an investor who has made billions by betting on out-of-favor industries like steel and coal, brings deep money connections not only on Wall Street but also in Palm Beach County, where he's known for soirees at his lakefront home, his support of the local civic association and his collection of surrealist art. Uihlein is the wife of Richard Uihlein, a major donor who gave $2 million to an anti-Trump campaign in March. Richard Uihlein has also given millions to Club for Growth, which was a major sponsor of anti-Trump advertising this spring.
Hendricks, a Wisconsin billionaire, gave the maximum $334,000 donation to the RNC in February. She also gave $2 million to Freedom Partners Action Fund, the super-PAC arm of the Koch brothers' political organization, in 2015. She co-hosted a Milwaukee fundraiser for Mitt Romney in 2012 that featured many of her state's most prominent donors as well as its best known politicians, including Governor Scott Walker, former Governor Tommy Thompson and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who was then Romney's running mate.
Weiser comes from Michigan, one of Trump's key targets for November. Weiser chaired the Michigan state GOP, served as the RNC's finance chair during Romney's presidential run, and bundled money for Bush and McCain. In 2014, he gave $150,000 to Ending Spending Action Fund, the super-PAC fueled mostly by donations from Joe Ricketts, whose wife Marlene was a major supporter of anti-Trump groups during the primaries.
Weiser is also chair of Future45, a super-PAC set up to attack Hillary Clinton. Its donors include hedge fund managers Paul Singer and Ken Griffin. Singer is one of the biggest financial supporters of Republican candidates and causes, though he has been one of the leaders of the anti-Trump movement. Singer has contributed $10.5 million during the Republican primary this year.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said the Trump Victory Committee has already begun raising support across the country, and they’re recruiting chairs in all 50 states.
Some GOP operatives cautioned that Trump still has a long way to get to $1 billion, noting that Romney, McCain and Bush had a bigger nucleus of fundraisers far earlier in the presidential election cycle. The campaign, however, expressed confidence.
“You’ve got the last four or five finance chairmen for Republican candidates now serving on Mr. Trump’s finance team,” Lewandowski said. “That is the single most experienced team that has ever been put together on the Republican side.”