New administration, new Cabinet members. President-elect Donald Trump has already begun picking out his crew, but so far, his two concrete choices did not donate a penny to Trump’s election effort. That would be Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, Trump’s new chief of staff (who did give a modest $1,000 to House Speaker Paul Ryan) and his new chief strategist, Brietbart News Chairman Stephen Bannon, who didn’t make a trackable donation this cycle.
OpenSecrets Blog will run through the top names Trump is reportedly mulling for each cabinet position and look at the money behind them — who they’ve donated to, and, if they were in public office, who their biggest contributors were.
Since we’re following the money, let’s start the series with our country’s chief financial officer, the Secretary of the Treasury. This cabinet head, who will replace current Secretary Jack Lew, will deal with tax and economic policies, manage public debt and oversee the Internal Revenue Service. Another important aspect of the job is supervising sanctions against foreign countries.
Steven Mnuchin: While Trump blasted Clinton throughout the campaign for her ties to Wall Street, the president-elect is considering this former Goldman Sachs exec for Treasury. Mnuchin was the Trump campaign’s finance chairman, charged with rounding up as much money as possible for the effort. He maxed out his contributions to Trump with $5,400, and gave $200,400 to the Republican National Committee. Mnuchin is now the chairman and chief executive of private investment firm Dune Capital Management, whose employees gave $133,000 to the Democratic National Committee, which of course backed that party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Mnuchin and his wife, Heather, have donated almost $465,000 since 1995, some of it to unlikely recipients. Heather gave $2,700 to Clinton last May, and since 2000, the couple has given $13,400 to Clinton’s Senate and presidential campaigns. While the majority of their cash this year went to Republicans, the couple doled out funds to Democrats Jason Kander ($250), who lost the Missouri Senate race, Michael Wildes ($1,900), defeated in a New Jersey House race, and Kamala Harris ($2,000), the newly-elected California senator.
Another interesting note: Bloomberg reported Mnuchin could save millions in taxes with help from a 1989 rule past secretaries, such as Henry Paulson, have used in order to satisfy conflict-of-interest rules. He could sell stock without paying taxes on them if he puts the money he gains into Treasury notes. As of a February filing, he owns $97 million of CIT Group.
Thomas Barrack Jr.: The chairman of private equity firm Colony Capital and a speaker at the Republican convention also proved his loyalty by maxing out to Trump this cycle, as well as giving more than $52,000 to the RNC and the Republican Party of Arkansas. The National Republican Congressional Committee, which pushes to elect more Republicans in the House, also received $19,000. Trump’s close friend and business associate has donated around $128,000 since 1992, mostly to Republicans, but with multiple gifts going to Sen. Dianne Feinstein(D-Calif.).
In June, Barrack started a pro-Trump super PAC, Rebuilding America Now, that spent nearly $20 million. Most of it was used to attack Clinton.
Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas): The 14-year Texas representative and House Financial Services Committee chairman didn’t give a penny to Trump through his campaign committee or leadership PAC, the Jobs, Economy & Budget Fund. (His campaign, though, did give $50,000 to our new VP Mike Pence’s campaign for governor in Indiana.) Since his first successful race for office starting in 2001, Hensarling has raised almost $16.7 million, with top contributors coming from JPMorgan Chase & Co ($105,000), Bank of America ($91,000) and the American Bankers Association($85,000). Quite a coincidence, considering his chairmanship. By industry, his top backers are insurance, securities & investment (or what we consider Wall Street), and commercial banks.
Tim Pawlenty: The former governor of Minnesota and congressman is now the president and CEO of a lobbying group for financial institutions, the Financial Services Roundtable (whose PAC, like its president, did not contribute to Trump). When the former state executive ran for president in 2012, he raised around $5.2 million, mostly from donations of more than $200. His top donors came from Wall Street, retired folks and lawyers/law firms, while he got the most money from employees and the PAC of Goldman Sachs ($58,000), Moelis & Co ($47,000) and Wells Fargo ($37,000). In 2008, Pawlenty was a bundler for Republican nominee John McCain, gathering $500,000 for the Arizonian.
Pawlenty raised $7.4 million in his gubernatorial races, with party committees, homemakers and retired individuals the largest backers his first time around, and lawyers and lobbyists, homemakers and people in real estate topping the list when he ran for his second term, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.