What Seattle donors say about why they gave money to billionaire Donald Trump’s campaign.
I’ve talked to almost every single person in Seattle who’s donated money to Donald Trump.
Don’t be too impressed. There were only six of them.
I managed to get four on the phone. Two of them said they wished they hadn’t given.
6: Trump donors identified from Seattle
2: Number who say they wish they hadn’t given
Vermont: State with fewest (4) donors
0: Trump donors from Minneapolis
Retired, executive, owner, president, CEO: Top five occupations of donors nationally, in order
Sources: Federal Election Commission; Seattle Times reporting
According to federal election records, the Republican presidential hopeful has hauled in 12 separate campaign contributions from these six. The grand total is not “yuge”: $2,925.
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One is a 70-year-old Belltown woman who wrote Trump a check for $200. Several days later she changed her mind and asked for her money back.
“What was I doing, sending money to a billionaire?” she told me. “He’s supposed to be self-funded, anyway.” She did get her money back.
A political conservative, she has second thoughts about the Donald. “I like Trump’s message … But I don’t know if he’d be a good president. I’ve got grandchildren, and I want to do what’s right for the country.”
A Broadmoor businessman gave Trump’s campaign $1,000 last August. But like the Belltown woman, he is embarrassed now and would only talk if his name wasn’t used, even though it’s in the public record.
At the time, he liked Trump’s vow to keep manufacturing jobs in America. But then Trump made ugly comments about Mexicans and building a wall along the border.
“Knowing what I know now, I definitely don’t support Trump,” he said. “I don’t like the guy … I think he’s got dictatorial tendencies.” He plans to vote for Hillary Clinton, and has contributed to her campaign.
Mike Gallagher, of Magnolia, has no regrets. “I like Trump because he’s gonna [bleeping] destroy the Republican party,” he said with a laugh.
There’s more support for Trump than people here realize, Gallagher says. When he’s wearing his “Make America Great Again” cap outside the city, folks come up to talk to him and even shake his hand.
“He’s appealing to people that nobody talks to. That’s what’s scaring the Republican party. He’s like a Huey Long — a populist.”
Gallagher, who calls himself a libertarian and a progressive, has also sent donations to Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders — making him one of just 12 people in the U.S. who have shelled out at least $200 to both Trump and Sanders, according to my analysis.
“I love Bernie … he is stirring the pot, too,” Gallagher said. “He attacks Wall Street, he attacks the banks — in a way, he’s running the same campaign as Trump, just with a different label.”
One of the Seattle donors seems like someone who’d be caucusing for Sanders this Saturday: a 20-something white guy who works in tech. But he thinks Trump will tackle the issues that he considers most important — the national debt and illegal immigration.
And that’s caused some friction at the office. “I defended Trump about something at my workplace,” he said, “and like sharks to chum, these guys get up from their desks — I’m fighting like five people at one time trying to defend my position and my candidate.”
He also would only talk to me if his name wasn’t used, saying he was afraid of being fired.
By law, donations of $200 or more are required to be itemized with name, occupation, ZIP code and other information. The FEC records don’t capture most of Trump’s small donors. Of the $9.5 million in individual contributions Trump has received through February, only a quarter has been itemized.
Trump has raised more money on the Eastside than in Seattle, a total of $8,957. And $2,700 of that comes from a local billionaire: former Microsoft visionary Charles Simonyi.
On a per capita basis, Alaskans have donated the most to Trump’s campaign — perhaps Sarah Palin’s endorsement gave him a boost there — and Vermonters the least. That’s Bernie country, after all. Trump’s gotten only four contributions from the Green Mountain State, totaling just $608.
In some major U.S. cities, Trump is even less popular than he is in Seattle. One hasn’t sent him a single contribution of note: Minneapolis.