WASHINGTON — Donald Trump on Monday met privately with New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, a top GOP fundraiser who previously supported former presidential candidate Jeb Bush, according to The New York Times.
On Tuesday, Trump’s campaign announced that Johnson would serve as a vice chair for the Trump Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee set up by the campaign and the Republican National Committee. Donors to the apparatus may contribute far larger amounts than in previous elections — up to $450,000 apiece. (Likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton struck a similar agreement with the Democratic National Committee.)
But Trump has boasted, time and time again, about self-funding his campaign. It is one of his most popular lines among his supporters. Moreover, he has repeatedly accused his rivals of being beholden to billionaires, special interests and lobbyists simply by taking their money.
During a February speech in New Hampshire, Trump suggested that Johnson, who was born to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical family, would impede Bush from renegotiating Medicare drug prices, as Trump has promised to do.
Trump predicted Jeb Bush would avoid taking on the issue as president because Woody Johnson, whose family founded Johnson & Johnson, served as his campaign chairman.
“I have no friends, as far as I’m concerned,” Trump said. “You know who my friends are? You’re my friends.”
By contrast, Trump said his private fortune would enable him to say no to wealthy interests after the election. He’s complained recently that he doesn’t get enough credit for self-financing — Trump does accept campaign donations, but he and Bernie Sanders are the only two major candidates turning down super PAC support.
“I don’t need your money, I need your vote,” Trump said.
The same Johnson is now working for Trump in a similar role.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Trump denied the contradiction between his earlier campaign promises and the new fundraising effort because he is “raising money for the party.”
That’s simply not the case. As the AP noted, the terms of the agreement stipulate that the first $5,400 of every check raised goes to Trump’s primary and general election accounts. The rest goes to the RNC and 11 state parties. Moreover, even though the RNC will use the money it receives toward electing House and Senate candidates, it also spends a significant amount of time and resources on voter identification and turnout for the presidential election — efforts that will surely benefit Trump.
Trump spun the fundraising arrangement as something that was put upon him by the RNC, one that he only agreed to reluctantly.
“The RNC really wanted to do it, and I want to show good spirit,” Trump told the AP. “‘Cause I was very happy to continue to go along the way I was.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
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