Politico is reporting that Trump’s biggest donors may be pulling out of a pro-Trump “outside political organization” that is being formed, modeled after Obama’s “Organizing for America.”
Tensions between President Donald Trump’s senior political aides and a pair of his most important donors are threatening to upend plans for an outside political group expected to play a key role in advancing his agenda.
Now, just days after Trump’s inauguration, the donors expected to provide much of the funding for the group — the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer — are considering abandoning the effort and launching an independent effort of their own, a half-dozen sources with knowledge of the situation told POLITICO.
I usually have to smirk at any mention of Trump’s “donors” given the often touted “self funding” line early in his campaign. Like many of others, that promise faded away without much of scrutiny. Its disappearance didn’t seem to bother any of the people who tried to sell me on Trump using that self-funding talking point.
The details about this power struggle within the Trump camp are vague but it sounds like a typical DC case of too many people wanting to be in charge.
The Mercers are known for their desire to exert significant control over their political investments, something that has proven challenging, thus far, as Trump’s outside political group has taken shape. It will be modeled on the non-profit organization created by the Obama campaign team after the former president’s 2012 reelection and is expected to be led by Parscale, who is a longtime associate not of the Mercers but of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. Ayers, a senior aide to Vice President Mike Pence, is also expected to play a leading role, and has a more congenial relationship with Rebekah Mercer.
To be honest I was only vaguely aware there were plans to form an organizing for Trump group. At one point there was talk that Kellyanne Conway would be heading it up.
“What Plouffe did with Organizing for America was impressive,” she added, referring to the outside group Obama announced in January 2009 as the machine to continue the grassroots network he built during his historic campaign.
Given the extent of Trump’s grassroots support and small-dollar donor base, his outside group has the potential to rival such organizations as the conservative donor network painstakingly built over many years by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.
Major Republican donors tend to prefer a single, validated place to park their money. Conway has ties both to the conservative movement and to a good number of the party’s emergent donor class.
The pro-Trump outside group would be able to tap wealthy donors who are now eager to curry favor with the incoming president. Already, as The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, the fundraising committee for Trump’s inaugural festivities is offering exclusive access — including lunches and a “candlelight dinner” — to Trump, Pence and other top officials, in exchange for high-dollar donations.
A lot of people on the right saw Obama turning his campaign organization into a non-profit to activate support for his agenda as something crooked—or at least sleazy. This sounds a little like another case of “same sh*t, different president” to me but my guess is that many won’t hold the same opinion with regard to Trump’s outside organization. As long as it’s done by the right team, it’s all good, right?