Nope, Clinton Is Not Completely Annihilating Trump Among Hedge Fund Donors

August 2, 2016, 10:00 AM UTC
Photographs by Drew Angerer and Josh Edelson/AFP — Getty Images

Update: 11:53 a.m.

Hedgies have embraced Donald Trump more than he is letting on.

On Monday, at a campaign rally in Columbus, Trump bragged about the fact that he had taken so little from hedge funds, just $19,000, compared to tens of millions that have gone from the Wall Street high rollers to Clinton, implying that his rival was too close to the finance industry. “I don’t even what the money,” Trump said. “I think I’ll send it back.”

Trump’s comments follow a story published last week by the Wall Street Journal that reported that Clinton is out fundraising Trump among hedge fund donors 2552-to-1. The story said hedge funds had contributed $48.5 million to the Clinton campaign, and just $19,000 to Trump. The story was widely republished by other news organizations.

But it appears Trump is taking in a lot more cash from hedge fund donors than the GOP candidate is letting on.

First of all, Trump’s head of fundraising, his national campaign finance director Steven Mnuchin is in fact a hedge fund manager. So is Carl Icahn, the businessman Trump regularly sites as top supporter. Another Trump backer is Stephen Feinberg, who is the head of Cerberus Capital Management—the hedge fund that is both famous for driving Chrysler into bankruptcy, as well as being the owner of the company that makes the Bushmaster rifle—the gun that was used to kill 20 children in Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Robert Mercer, too, the hedge fund manager 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.

All told, Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge fund manager who has also publicly supported Trump and is an unofficial advisor to the campaign, says about 20% of the likely $70 million—Scaramucci’s estimate—that the Trump campaign brought in in July came from hedge fund managers or others in the industry. Scaramucci estimates that hedge fund managers have donated as much as $25 million to the Trump campaign so far.

The WSJ cited the Center for Responsive Politics as the source for its $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, which is not a hedge fund. It’s 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.

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.

Update: An earlier version of this story cited numbers from a Wall Street Journal story on donations from the hedge fund industry to both the Trump and Clinton campaigns. Fortune was not able to verify those figures, and now believes them to be wrong. The story has been changed to reflect that.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Penny Pritzker was appointed Secretary of State. She is in fact Secretary of Commerce.


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