Friday, August 21, 2015

Donald Trump: The Reluctant Political Donor

With Donald Trump still the GOP candidate of choice, I wanted to take a look at his political past, particularly his campaign contributions to federal elections.  This data is available on, a website that provides a glimpse into the money behind federal politics in America and for state level donations.

Since 1989, Mr. Trump has donated the following:

Federal: $703,900
State: $257,240

Total: $961,140

Federal: $327,600
State: $257,250

Total: $584,850

Let's look at some additional details about his federal contributions.

1.) Republicans: In 2015, Mr. Trump has made two donations to the Republican Party in both New Hampshire and South Carolina, each of which received $5000.  In 2014, he donated $2600 to Lindsay Graham and $3000 each to Tom Cotton, Jeff Sessions and Barbara Comstock among others as you can see on this table:

Back in 2013, Mitch McConnell received a total of $5200 and the Republican National Committee received $32,400.  In 2012, the Congressional Leadership Fund received $100,000, his largest one-time federal donation, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee received $30,800.

In general, Mr. Trump's donations to the Republicans have accelerated through time with $118,700 being donated during the 2014 election cycle out of the total of $703,900 donated over the period from 1989 to early 2015.  Most of his donations are quite small, ranging from $1000 to $2000 for individuals and larger amounts to Republican committees.

2.) Democrats:  In keeping with his changing political allegiances, Mr. Trump has made no donations to the Democrats since September 2010.  Here is a table showing his contributions leading up to the 2008 Presidential election and the 2010 mid-term election:

Over the years between 2007 and 2010, Donald Trump donated a total of $63,100 to the Democratic Party and various Democratic candidates.  His largest donation over the time period was a $25,000 donation to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

One candidate's name sticks out, Ms. Hillary Clinton.  Between 2002 and 2009, Ms. Clinton received a total of $3700, a rather paltry amount given that she was taking a run at the highest office in the nation.  Between 1993 and 2003, Edward Kennedy received total donations of $5000 and between 1989 and 2003, John Kerry received total donations of $5500.  As well, Harry Reid received $7400, Charles Schumer received a whopping $10,900 and the much-beleaguered Anthony Weiner received $4300 spread over two donations in 2007 and 2010.

Mr. Trump is quite frugal in his political donations when compared to his billionaire peers like Sheldon Adelson, Michael Bloomberg and Bob Perry.  As shown on this table from the 2012 election, Mr. Trump's total political donations of just over $1.5 million in the years between 1989 and 2015 look positively insignificant when compared to the single cycle donations of his wealthy counterparts:

In fact, Mr. Trump's donations during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles don't even make the top 100, suggesting that he really isn't all that serious about buying political favouritism.

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