Photograph by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images
By Stephen Gandel
August 2, 2016

Updated: 9:45 a.m.

Donald Trump may be catching up in the presidential money race.

Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge fund manager and top Wall Street fundraiser for Trump, estimates the candidate and the groups that support him may have raised as much as $70 million in July. That’s nearly 30% more than the $55 million the candidate said he and groups that support him raised in June.

Scaramucci does not have an official role with the Trump campaign, but he is a top Republican bundler, and an adviser to Trump’s national finance committee. Scaramucci says he doesn’t have the campaign’s official numbers, but that he is regularly briefed on fundraising totals. His guess comes from those briefings, which have suggested that Trump did very well with donors in July.

The official FEC filings showed that Trump’s campaign raised $22 million that month, though some of that difference may have to do with how donations are counted.

A $70 million haul would make July Trump’s best fundraising month so far, though the candidate is still trailing his rival for contributions. Hillary Clinton also announced Tuesday morning that she had raised $90 million from donors in July.

Over the weekend, Trump said that his campaign had its best fundraising month ever in July. And at a rally on Monday, Trump said that his campaign had raised nearly $36 million in July from small donors alone. He didn’t give a total fundraising number for the month.

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Scaramucci also says Trump is way more popular on Wall Street and has the backing of far more people in the hedge fund industry than a widely cited report from The Wall Street Journal last week—that said Clinton was far out fundraising Trump with money crowd—suggested.

The WSJ last Friday reported that Clinton had raised $48.5 million from hedge funds to her campaign or to groups working on her behalf. The same report said that Trump, on the other hand, had collected just $19,000 from the hedge fund industry.

But the WSJ’s numbers don’t add up. Scaramucci says he and his firm—which manages portfolios of hedge funds as well as runs a top industry conference—alone have donated $250,000 to the Trump campaign effort, including $267 that Scaramucci says he has spent on Trump’s Make America Great Again hats.

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Scaramucci says that other notable hedge funders who have donated significant sums to Trump’s campaign efforts include Carl Icahn, Tom Barrack, and Stephen Feinberg. In fact, Trump’s chief fundraiser and head of his national finance committee, billionaire Steven Mnuchin, is himself a hedge fund manager.

Scaramucci says hedge fund managers have donated as much as $25 million to the Trump campaign and political groups supporting the candidate, with around 20% of the money Trump brought in July coming from hedge funds.

Scaramucci also discussed a fundraising event he plans to help put on for Trump in the Hamptons on August 13, which is likely to attract a lot of potential donors from the hedge fund industry and Wall Street in general. The event is scheduled to be held at the house of New York Jets football team owner Woody Johnson.

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In its report, the WSJ cited the Center for Responsive Politics as the source for the $48.5 million vs. $19,000 Clinton-Trump hedge fund donation gap.

But Douglas Weber, a senior researcher for the Center for Responsive Politics, says he doesn’t know how the newspaper came up with those totals.

In its article, the WSJ said it counted Clinton’s donations from seven “financial firms” to compute the $48.5 million figure. One of the firms the newspaper included in its hedge fund figures was the Pritzker Group, a private equity firm controlled by members of the Pritzker family. Another family member, Penny Pritzker, was appointed Secretary of Commerce in 2013 by President Obama.

 

Hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, who once supported Ted Cruz, is now reportedly backing Trump. He and his daughter have reportedly given close to $500,000 to the Trump effort so far.

The Center for Responsive Politics does have a page on its website that cites donations from hedge funds and private equity funds. The page says that Trump has raised just $18,866 from that industry. The same page puts Clinton’s total from the group at $27.6 million, or about half of what the WSJ says.

The Center for Responsive Politics says its numbers are correct through July 21.

Despite his own backers calling the numbers bogus, Trump has tried to capitalize on the reportedly lopsided donation numbers for hedge funds. He said he didn’t know where the $19,000 from the wealthy investors came from, and that he “didn’t even want” money from hedge funders. “I think I’ll send it back,” Trump told his crowd of supporters.

If that’s truly the case, Trump will have to send a lot more money back than just $19,000.

Update: Shortly after this story was published the Clinton campaign announced that it had raised $90 million in July. The story was updated to reflect that fact.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said that Penny Pritzker was appointed Secretary of State. In fact, she is Secretary of Commerce.

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