Donald Trump, who bashed rival Ted Cruz for his ties to Goldman Sachs, has named a campaign finance director who put in nearly two decades with the giant investment bank.
As Trump morphs into a more traditional candidate to raise money for the general election – after touting his preference for self-funding his primary run – he named Steven Mnuchin, chairman and CEO of Dune Capital Management, a private investment firm, to head up his fundraising efforts.
Mnuchin, whom the campaign said has previously worked with Trump “in a business capacity,” spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs, where he was a partner. He was also an investment professional at Soros Fund Management, a privately owned firm founded by billionaire investor George Soros, who has donated millions to a pro-Hillary Clinton “super” political action committee.
Goldman Sachs isn’t the biggest player on Wall Street in terms of political money, but it’s already been a target on the campaign trail as a symbol of the excesses of Wall Street, cited both by liberals leery of deregulated banking and conservatives opposed to big banks and “crony capitalism.”
Cruz, who dropped out of the race after a trouncing on Tuesday, borrowed $500,000 from the firm to help finance his Senate campaign and then failed to reveal it on one of his legally mandated disclosure forms. Also, his wife, Heidi, is a managing director at the firm in Houston, though she was on leave during his campaign.
Trump accused the firm on the campaign trail of having “total control” over Cruz – and Clinton.
Mnuchin’s presence could complicate things for Trump as he seeks to hone a general election theme against Hillary Clinton: The front-running Democratic candidate famously received $675,000 in speaking fees from the firm and refuses to release transcripts of the talks.
Mnuchin contributed more than $7,000 to Clinton's successful New York Senate bids in 2000 and 2006 and to her unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. He gave $20,000 to the Republican National Committee in 2012. He also contributed to Mitt Romney’s and John Kerry’s presidential campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
(Trump himself contributed to the Clinton Foundation and famously invited Bill and Hillary Clinton to his wedding.)
Trump called Mnuchin a “professional at the highest level with an extensive and very successful financial background” and said he “brings unprecedented experience and expertise to a fundraising operation that will benefit the Republican Party and ultimately defeat Hillary Clinton.”
Trump boasted on the campaign trail that he was self-funding his campaign and was not beholden to the special interests that he said were bankrolling his opponents. He said in a news release Thursday announcing Mnuchin that he’d “likewise be putting up substantial money toward the general election.”
But he began to suggest in January that he’d raise money for the general election, and he and the Republican National Committee are expected soon to develop a joint fundraising effort. Trump had put $36 million into his campaign as of the end of March and had taken in about $12 million in contributions.
Trump told NBC on Wednesday that he expects he and the RNC will need to raise $1 billion to compete with Clinton. But he contradicted himself in the same breath, telling Lester Holt – who anchored the nightly news from Trump Tower – that he wasn’t sure he’d have to raise that much “because I have a big voice, I go on shows like yours, I explain the truth and people seem to go along with it.”