Over the years, Donald Trump’s children Ivanka, Eric and Don Jr. have been relatively frequent and promiscuous political donors, making significant contributions to Democrats and Republicans alike. The three combined contributed $15,000 to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and $13,800 to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. They have given to numerous New York politicians, both Republican and Democratic. Don Jr. and Ivanka even contributed a combined $8,800 to a number of Hillary Clinton’s campaigns.
But thus far, according to campaign finance records, Trump’s three eldest children have not donated to their father’s presidential effort, even as the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee are making significant efforts to raise money from small-dollar contributors.
Interestingly, the three older Trump children have in the past been significant donors to Republican party committees, contributing tens of thousands of dollars to the Republican National Committee, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the National Republican Congressional Committee since 2008. (They have also made significant contributions to the three Democratic counterparts to these committees.) But these donations ceased in 2014; since their father captured the Republican nomination, the Trump children have not continued their support of GOP party committees, according to records accessed on OpenSecrets.org.
Trump’s children are not the only ones close to him who are financially sitting out this election cycle. The GOP nominee routinely brags about his company creating tens of thousands of jobs, yet a search on OpenSecrets.org for campaign contributions from employees of Trump’s companies returns just 19 contributions to Trump from 13 employees, totaling just $5,477.
This baker’s dozen of individuals who are financially supporting Trump’s campaign are spread throughout a number of Trump ventures. Four list their employer as The Trump Organization, including frequent Trump media surrogate and lawyer David Cohen, who contributed $250 to his boss’ campaign; others list themselves as employees of Trump buildings including Trump Tower in New Rochelle, Trump World Tower and Trump golf courses, specifically the Trump National and the Trump International clubs. Kerry Woolard, who manages the Trump Winery and spoke at the Republican National Convention, contributed $250. One contributor listed themselves as an employee of Trump Entertainment Resorts, the formerly bankrupt owner of Trump’s Atlantic City casino properties, which is now a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises. Another listed themselves as an employee of Trump University.*
Trump’s website still states that he is “self-funding” his campaign to ensure that he doesn’t “owe anything to lobbyists and special interests,” a major talking point in his successful primary run. Yet, according to OpenSecrets.org, by this point in his campaign only one-third of Trump’s campaign fundraising has come from his own bank account, while 29 percent has been raised from small donors and 16 percent from larger donors. Even as Trump relies heavily on small contributions from individual supporters, reports over the summer showed that his campaign was spending lavishly on Trump-owned businesses.
Candidates for office, especially those like Trump who have plenty of wealthy connections, often start their fundraising pitches with their friends and families. Yet Trump, even as he solicits small-dollar donations and spends them on his own enterprises, seems to be asking very little of his own family and top business associates.
*We have only named contributors who have spoken as surrogates for Trump in the media.