Some big Washington GOP donors, including Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman Jr., have opened their wallets in recent months to help elect Donald Trump.
After remaining on the sidelines much of the year, some big state GOP donors have opened their wallets to help elect Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman Jr. and other major donors from Washington poured more than $1.2 million into the Trump Victory Fund over the past few months, according to a third-quarter filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Freeman, the developer of Bellevue Square, gave $100,000 to the pro-Trump fund Sept. 7. He’s been an influential GOP donor for decades and is spending big this year to defeat Sound Transit 3, the proposed $54 billion light-rail expansion on the Nov. 8 ballot.
In an interview Wednesday, Freeman said Trump was not his first choice in the GOP field. But since Trump emerged as the nominee, Freeman said he’s grown “very comfortable” with him and thinks he’s the only person who can “clean up the mess” in Washington, D.C.
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“I think we are in a horrible situation with government today. There is an inside-the-Beltway mentality that is not healthy at all. It is an attitude that we all work for them and they don’t work for us,” he said.
Freeman, who met Trump at an August fundraiser and rally in Everett, said he doesn’t necessarily believe the recent swarm of allegations — including the groping of women — that emerged against the candidate, saying, “There are people who will do almost anything for national attention and getting on the front page.”
Vancouver-based apartment developer Clyde Holland remains the state’s largest Washington contributor to the pro-Trump fund. He made three donations totaling $210,000 in September, bringing his total to $304,600, FEC records show.
North Seattle businesswoman Faye Garneau gave $125,000. In an interview this summer, she said she supported Trump due to his business background. “He’s honest; he’s talking bluntly,” she said at the time.
State Republican Party Chairman Susan Hutchison also pitched in $10,000. Despite an eruption of controversies over Trump’s behavior toward women, Hutchison has remained an ardent defender and is attending Wednesday’s final presidential debate in Las Vegas.
Other notable local donors include former Microsoft executive and philanthropist Charles Simonyi, who gave $50,000, and Fremont business leader Suzie Burke, who gave $25,000.
Gail Ackerley, of Seattle, also donated $100,000, as did J. Walter Gearhart, of Waterville.
The Trump Victory Fund is a joint fundraising committee that splits receipts among the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and state GOP organizations.
“It’s geared toward the presidential nominee, but the whole purpose is general Republican turnout, so it helps the ticket from the White House to the courthouse,” said state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, who is Trump’s Washington state campaign director.
The legal rules around the committee allow wealthy donors to write larger checks — up to $449,400 — compared with donations directly to candidate committees, which are limited to $5,400 per year.
In all, more than 100 donors gave to the Trump Victory Fund between July in September.
Before that, the only state donors to the fund, which was announced in May, had been Holland and Vancouver billionaire Ken Fisher.
Many of the new Washington donations were clustered around Trump’s Aug. 30 visit to Everett, where he held a major rally and private fundraiser co-hosted by Garneau and others.
Overall, locally as nationally, Trump’s fundraising efforts have been outmatched by Democrat Hillary Clinton’s big-money campaign machine.
In addition to the Victory Fund, Trump’s campaign had raised about $1 million directly from Washington donors through August.
Clinton’s campaign had raised more than $7 million over that period.