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In this week’s Observer, Azi and I looked at Donald Trump’s New York state political contributions, which favoured Democrats over Republicans by a nearly two-to-one margin.Not surprisingly, his New York City donations skew even more toward Democrats, and again, reflect a certain pragmatism more than any discernible political ideology.
Since the 1989 election cycle—which began counting in November of 1985—Trump has given $137,894 to city candidates, with all but about $11,000 going to local Democrats.
One of the smallest, but most noticeable contributions—in light of recent events—was Trump’s $150 contribution to the re-election campaign of Councilman Anthony Weiner in 1997.
Perhaps the two had more in common back then.
In his 2000 campaign book, The America We Deserve, Trump endorsed a single-payer healthcare system, which has been one of Congressman Weiner’s favourite issues over the last few years.
Since then, Weiner has moved on to Congress and become a champion of the fighting left, and Trump has become a reality show host and Birther Republican candidate for president—personas which now bring them into conflict.
Weiner wasn’t the only liberal future member of Congress to receive Trump money. Carolyn Maloney got $1,000 for her Council re-election in 1989. And Jerrold Nadler got $500 for his unsuccessful run for city comptroller that same year.
But, as he did at the state level—where he contributed to three different attorney general candidates last year—the casino baron hedged his bets.
Former congresswoman, Liz Holtzman, received a total of $7,000 running against Nadler that year, a race she eventually won.
Trump seems to have a special place in his heart for comptrollers, giving liberally to Alan Hevesi and Bill Thompson during their years as the city’s chief financial officer. Trump’s largest contributions were to Harrison Goldin, the comptroller who served from 1974 to 1989.
Trump gave him a combined $20,229 on November 1, 1985—money which officially went toward Goldin’s run for mayor four years later. In 1988, Trump gave Goldin another $3,000.
But he also gave to David Dinkins’ mayoral campaign in 1989, to the tune of $2,250 dollars. And just in case, he gave to the Republican, Rudy Giuliani, too: a $3,000 check in April of 1989.
Of course, Dinkins won that race. Trump gave $5,500 to the mayor’s re-election effort in 1993, with zero contributions to Giuliani.
But Giuliani won the re-match that fall, and by the next spring, Trump was a Giuliani backer again, donating $5,000 in April of 1994. He added another $2,700 in the succeeding years, and an extra $500 to Giuliani deputy Fran Reiter.
With Giuliani limited to two terms, and Michael Bloomberg financing his own campaign, Trump gave to a few Democrats in the 2001 mayor’s race. He contributed to Hevesi’s campaign back in 1999, and chipped in a couple thousand to Peter Vallone, Sr., but saved most of his money until after the Democratic primary. In the weeks leading to the run-off between Mark Green and Freddy Ferrer, Trump gave more than $6,000 to Ferrer. After the run-off, Trump gave $4,500 to Green, in late October, a few weeks before he was defeated by Michael Bloomberg.
In the years leading up to the 2005 race, he sprinkled a little money around to Council Speaker Gifford Miller and Borough President Virginia Fields, but mostly sat out the campaign’s stretch run, save for a couple of $1,000 donations to Bill Thompson’s comptroller campaign.
A few more Thompson contributions counted toward the comptroller’s ’09 mayoral campaign (though they were made in 2005 and 2006), but Trump otherwise sat out the mayoral race. His last contribution to any city candidate was $4,950 to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz back in 2007.
A spokesperson for Trump did not return a request for comment.
Below is a spreadsheet with all of Trump’s local donations. (Note that the first on the list, to Ruben Diaz Jr., is actually from Trump’s son, Donald Jr.)