Mostly False
Ferguson
Says Donald Trump has "given more money to Democratic candidates than Republican candidates."

Ben Ferguson on Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 in comments on CNN

Donald Trump's campaign contributions to Democrats and Republicans

The eccentricities and controversies of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign have polarized the Republican Party faithful, just a few weeks after Trump announced his bid.

In a July 2, 2015, appearance on CNN, radio host and author Ben Ferguson joined conservatives critical of Trump, alleging a lack of seriousness and loyalty to the GOP. "Donald Trump is not some big GOP Republican," he said, "and some people are trying to act like he is."

But Ferguson took his admonishment a step further, questioning Trump’s financial commitment to the party and claiming that Trump has "given more money to Democratic candidates than Republican candidates."

Trump’s dalliances with different political parties are well known, but we wanted to add up the donation totals to see what they said.

The radio host, when reached for comment, offered a mostly anecdotal defense of his claim, citing big contributions from Trump to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Ferguson also pointed to contributions from Trump to Hillary Clinton and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Trump’s loyalties have not been exclusive to Republicans, Ferguson noted. In 2000, he launched a short-lived bid for the Reform Party’s presidential nomination, receiving more than 15,000 votes in the party’s California primary -- a tally that would have won him the state had he not already withdrawn from the race. Ferguson also directed us to his complicated history with party registration.

What the numbers show

We went to two authoritative databases of campaign finance data to examine Ferguson’s numbers: OpenSecrets.org, to find federal donations, and FollowtheMoney.org, for state-level donations.

Trump has actually been relatively evenhanded in doling out cash to the two parties, but since 1989, he’s contributed over $350,000 more to Republicans running for federal and state offices, campaign finance records show.

Data from the Federal Election Commission and state elections offices provided by the two websites show that Trump has given $584,850 to Democrats and $961,140 to the GOP over the last 26 years.

The difference in donations is almost entirely captured in Trump’s recent giving. Since 2012, Trump has donated $463,450 to Republicans and just $3,500 to Democrats (California Attorney General Kamala Harris and New York Assemblyman Michael Benedetto).

We’ve included those numbers below, with links to records of the individual contributions.

 

Republicans

Democrats

Federal

$703,900

$327,600

State

$257,240

$257,250

Total

$961,140

$584,850

 

Republicans

Democrats

1989-2011

$497,690

$581,350

2012-present

$463,450

$3,500

In short, Ferguson’s claim might have been true had he uttered it just a few years ago. In 2011, a Washington Post analysis of Trump’s donations found the majority of them going to Democrats. But the flow of cash from Trump to Democrats has fallen off; the last time he gave to a Democrat running for federal office was in 2010.

We can’t drill down into local and city politics because there is no single campaign finance database. But we should note that Trump donated $50,000 to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2010, as well as over $25,000 more to other Cook County Democrats, among other donations that he’s made on the local level. (Trump has made his presence known in the Windy City.)

At the same time, however, the real estate mogul’s gifts to Republican candidates and organizations increased dramatically. Since 2010, Trump has donated $124,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and given another $50,000 to American Crossroads, a conservative super PAC.

A mix of politics and business

It’s important to note that just as Trump’s political ambitions and private business interests often seem to overlap, it’s sometimes difficult to parse out the exact motivations behind many of his political contributions over the years.

As an influential real estate developer in the Northeast and in cities around the world, Trump’s contributions may have not have much to do with one’s political party.

From 1996 to 2007, for instance, Trump made 12 separate donations to New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo, a Republican who represents the Garden State’s Second Congressional District. The district includes Atlantic City, where the Trump Organization used to have significant holdings.

While conservatives like Ferguson have criticized Trump for his donations to Democrats, Trump defended himself as having no viable Republican options in overwhelmingly blue states like New York. "Everyone’s Democratic," he told Sean Hannity in 2011. "So what am I going to do — contribute to Republicans? One thing: I’m not stupid. Am I going to contribute to Republicans for my whole life when they get heat when they run against some Democrat and the most they can get is 1 percent of the vote?"

Our rating

Ferguson said that Trump has "given more money to Democratic candidates than Republican candidates."

We can’t say definitively that his claim is wrong at all levels of government, since we don’t have the local data. But public records show that the real estate tycoon has actually contributed around $350,000 more to Republicans at the state and federal level than Democrats. That, however, is a recent development.

Ferguson’s statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts. We rate it Mostly False.