FEC records identify just 3 of the 68 primetime speakers (excluding Trump) as having made contributions to Donald Trump’s campaign, joint fundraising committees, or major super PACs in the 2016 cycle as of June 30, which includes the latest data available.
That means the 65 other primetime speakers at the RNC either didn’t donate to the pro-Trump operation, or they gave $200 or less. Donors who have given below that level are not identified on FEC filings, so we can’t know whether the speakers donated small sums to Trump. (We also included donations by a speaker’s spouse when we could nail them down.)
That may be no surprise in the case of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), whose support of Trump isn’t even verbal. But 21 of the speakers were glad to open their wallets for other Republican candidates and committees, just not for Trump.
The speaker who gave the least of the three donors was Kerry Woolard, general manager of Trump Winery; she gave $250 to the Trump campaign. Woolard spoke on Tuesday.
The other two donors — Tom Barrack, the multimillionaire CEO of Colony Capital, and Phil Ruffin, a Las Vegas billionaire casino mogul — gave the lion’s share of the cash, $920,400 combined. Barrack will take the mic tonight in Cleveland.
All but $5,400 of that money went to the Trump Victory Committee, the joint-fundraising committee that raises money for both Trump and the Republican National Committee. Trump Victory raised $25.7 million through the end of June. Ruffin also provided $1 million in seed money to the Trump super PAC Make America Great Again, but that was refunded after Trump disavowed the organization and it shut down.
Here’s a table of what, or whether, tonight’s speakers have donated:
The numbers raise questions about how much the speakers, ostensibly chosen by Trump, actually support the billionaire mogul. Some may speak more out of hatred for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton — possibly, for instance, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Mukasey’s speech focused only on Clinton, and barely mentioned Trump.
And some may have jumped at the chance to be on stage because they couldn’t miss an opportunity to get in front of millions of viewers. Scott Baio, the D-list actor who played the title character on “Charles in Charge” and Chachi on “Happy Days,” was, as seen in Baio’s Google Trends, catapulted out of obscurity when he spoke at the convention on Monday. Baio previously endorsed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walkerand contributed $1,000 to Carly Fiorina, both of whom fought Trump for the nomination. He later made it on to MSNBC.
During the Republican primary, one of Trump’s major selling-points was that he would self-fund his campaign. But, having snagged the nomination, Trump has ramped up his fundraising operation amid charges that his effort is severely underfunded. OpenSecrets Blog analyzed FEC filings of Trump’s donors up to June 30, so our numbers should capture his recent fundraising push.
Now, to be fair, even $200 may be a steep price for, say, 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw, who spoke on Monday. And five of the speakers are from Trump’s family, although that certainly doesn’t preclude them from donating. (Rick Perry‘s wife gave $2,700 to his campaign, for example.) But rich speakers like Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel and oil billionaire Harold Hamm have yet to break out their checkbooks in support of Trump. Last August, Thiel gave $2 million to support Fiorina. Hamm gave $73,200 to the RNC, National Republican Congressional Committee and Senate campaigns in swing states.
Some speakers have delivered great pro-Trump rhetoric. It’s just not backed up by cash.
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani compared Trump to Ronald Reagan, and said Trump would make America “the shining city on the hill.” But Giuliani gave nothing to Trump. He did, however, give a total of $21,867 to the NRCC, and to Sen.John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.)
Dana White, who snagged $360 million when he sold his stake in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, didn’t donate to Trump’s White House bid, either. White, who spoke on Tuesday, described Trump as a “friend” who “was the first guy who recognized the potential that we saw in the UFC and encouraged us to build our business.” White said “I will always be grateful, so grateful, to him for standing with us in those early days, so tonight, I stand with Donald Trump.” White was willing to pony up funds for the campaigns of Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), Sen. Chuck Grassley(R-Iowa), and the National Republican Senatorial Committee to the tune of $16,200.
For the full breakdown of the donations made by Republican National Convention primetime speakers during the 2016 cycle, check out the tables below:
Contributions to Trump and supporting super PACs are through June 30; contributions to other committees are through May 31.
Alex Baumgart contributed research to this post.