When Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was outed for allegedly making racist comments, conservatives leapt to dig deeper and came up with a surprising find. Sterling is a Democrat.
Or so they claimed. Matt Drudge tweeted to more than 264,000 followers: "NYT informed the unwashed how Bundy is a Republican. Leaves out NBA Sterling is a Democrat."
A recording of Sterling telling his girlfriend not to bring African-American friends to basketball games came on the heels of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy suggesting blacks would do better as slaves. Hence, Drudge’s tweet comparing the two men.
PunditFact adds its research to the work of several other news organizations to correct the record on Sterling. (Hat tips below.) He is a registered Republican, according to the Los Angeles County voter registry.
As far as we can tell, the conservative website Daily Caller was the first to tie Sterling to the Democratic Party. It had an click-baiting item on Saturday that declared, "Race hate spewing Clippers owner is Democratic donor."
That article listed Sterling’s campaign contributions from more than 20 years ago. He spread a total of $4,000 among three Democrats, including former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, and California Gov. Gray Davis. According to public records, he has given no money to any candidate since.
Shortly after midnight, the National Review Online posted that Sterling was a Democrat and then sometime later corrected itself. "An earlier version of this post identified Sterling as a Democrat," the editor wrote. "Although his political donations appear to have been exclusively to Democrats, his official party affiliation is not known."
At about noon on Sunday, Drudge made his claim.
In the wee hours, as Sunday became Monday, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik rebutted those statements. Hiltzik tweeted, "What makes anyone think Donald Sterling is a Democrat? LA County records show him registered Republican since 1998."
Drudge said Sterling is a Democrat. County records show that he is a registered Republican and has been for many years. His donations to Democrats took place two decades ago and were modest even by the standards of that time.
We rate the claim Pants on Fire.
Update: As we were publishing our fact-check, Drudge deleted his tweet without explanation. Here's a screen grab from Real Clear Politics: