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GOP mega-donors pour money into Trump campaign


Joe and Marlene Rickets

Marlene Ricketts (right) once help fund the effort to keep Donald Trump from office. Now, she and her family have become some of the president’s supporters. | Nati Harnik/AP Photo

campaign finance

Some of the same donors who bankrolled anti-Trump efforts in 2016 are at the center of the president’s reelection.

President Donald Trump savaged the mega-donor class during his 2016 campaign. Now, he’s turning to them to bankroll his 2020 effort.

The Trump political machine raked in $108 million for his campaign and the Republican National Committee during the second fundraising quarter, and the massive haul was fueled in no small part by some of the Republican Party’s biggest givers, according to filings released Monday evening.

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An array of donors forked over six-figure checks, and over a dozen gave Trump Victory Committee — a joint fundraising venture with the Republican National Committee — the maximum allowed $360,000.

The list of those giving the highest allowed amount included Nebraska mega-donor Marlene Ricketts, who helped to bankroll the multimillion-dollar effort to stop Trump from winning the 2016 Republican nomination. Since then, the Ricketts clan has become supportive of the president, with Ricketts’ son, Todd, serving as RNC finance chairman.

The roster of max-out givers also included Linda McMahon, the former WWE executive who this spring stepped down from her post as head of the Small Business Administration to chair the principal pro-Trump super PAC. In that role, McMahon has been charged with courting mega-donors who can cut big checks.

Trump is slated to court major contributors on Friday, when he’ll host a fundraiser at his Bedminister golf course.

The Trump campaign and RNC is using its war chest to build a sprawling national apparatus, complete with field deployment to swing states and a voter registration effort. With Democrats locked in a messy primary that could drag on well into 2020, the president’s team is looking to get a head start on the general election.

The Trump political operation reported having over $123 million cash on hand – funds party officials would like to direct toward shoring up his standing in the all-important Rust Belt and expanding the map into traditionally blue states.

“As enthusiasm for this President continues to grow, these resources ensure President Trump and Republicans up and down the ballot are in a strong position to win heading into 2020,” Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, said in a statement released just before the filings were made public.

After shunning Trump in the 2016 GOP primary, the big donor class is now warming to him. His campaign has launched a bundling program which allows high-powered Republicans to tap into their expansive networks for cash. And Vice President Mike Pence has been quietly wooing many of the Republican Party’s biggest givers, some of whom virulently opposed him in 2016.

Some of the high-dollar contributors are familiar to the president. The list of six-figure givers included several longtime Trump friends, including investor Howard Lorber, Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter, and Las Vegas casino executive Phil Ruffin.

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