Trump Seeks Campaign Cash from New York Real-Estate Buddies
Donald Trump, taking steps to mobilize a fundraising operation to support his presidential bid, said he planned to meet over lunch in Manhattan today with a group of friends and supporters from the New York real-estate world.
Trump called the group “the biggest real estate people in the country” during an interview at Trump Tower before the meeting. Those expected to attend included the billionaire Richard LeFrak and Howard Lorber, both of whom Trump has known for decades and has called his closest friends. Others included Steve Roth and Michael Fascitelli, the current and former chief executives of Vornado Realty Trust, and Steve Witkoff, who once worked for a law firm that represented Trump and later started his own real-estate company.
Trump is starting to raise funds for a general election contest against Hillary Clinton after mostly relying on media attention and his own fortune to prevail in the Republican primary. Trump held his first fundraising event in California last week, and is planning gatherings in Texas, New York, and elsewhere over the coming days.
Clinton, for her part, has been assembling her fundraising infrastructure for more than a year. Just in the past three weeks, the main super-political action committee supporting her spent $5.7 million on advertising attacking Trump.
Several groups of Trump supporters are advancing plans for super-PACs, which can accept donations of as much as $1 million or more, but none has yet emerged as the dominant vehicle.
Trump, who had earlier pegged the cost of a presidential bid at $1 billion, said in the interview that he now sees no reason to raise even half that amount, because he can continue to rely on free media.
Like Trump himself, the real-estate executives he invited to today's meeting aren't staunchly partisan in their political giving. Over the years, Lefrak, Lorber, and Fascitelli, the biggest spenders of the bunch, have each given between $200,000 and $400,000 to federal races, according to Federal Election Commission records. Each gave at least a quarter of his money to Democrats. None of the five had donated to Trump as of April 30, the last day for which campaign contributions have been disclosed. None of the five returned phone calls or emails today.
LeFrak actually donated to a different candidate during the Republican primary—Governor John Kasich of Ohio.