Donald Trump's presidential campaign announced Thursday that it had hired a national finance chairman with deep ties to Wall Street, a move intended to bolster the team's general election fundraising capabilities as it seeks to build out its bare-bones operation.
Steven Mnuchin was hired to lead the team’s fundraising efforts, the campaign said Thursday in a statement, amid a strategic recalibration since Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination sooner than expected. The real estate mogul's two remaining rivals for the nomination, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, suspended their campaigns earlier this week after a string of bruising primary losses.
The installment of a fundraising guru signals that the campaign will expand its financial targets and no longer rely mostly on Trump’s personal fortune to bankroll its operating budget. For months, Trump's decision to mostly self-fund his campaign has been at the heart of his brand as a populist crusader against special interests.
"Mr. Trump has self-funded his successful primary battle and will likewise be putting up substantial money toward the general election," the statement said.
Mnuchin's profile in particular as a Wall Street businessman — he is chairman and CEO of a hedge fund in New York and was once a partner at Goldman Sachs — cuts against that anti-elite image, casting a spotlight on the tricky messaging the campaign faces as it turns to an expensive general election fight.
Trump's campaign is now tasked with dramatically expanding its own donation base and potentially recalibrating the candidate's anti-super PAC position.
“Steven is a professional at the highest level with an extensive and very successful financial background. He brings unprecedented experience and expertise to a fundraising operation that will benefit the Republican Party and ultimately defeat Hillary Clinton,” Trump said in a statement.
But Mnuchin’s political allegiances may also raise eyebrows among Trump’s critics in the Republican Party, who have remained skeptical of the mogul’s conservative bona fides.
A review of Mnuchin's past political donations shows that he has donated to Republican and Democratic politicians alike, according to OpenSecrets.org.
In addition to donating to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) and the Republican National Committee, Mnuchin has also donated to: then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.); then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.); 2000 Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore; 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry; Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.); and former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), among others.
Trump himself was criticized throughout the primary for donating to Democratic politicians in the past. He has regularly dismissed those attacks, saying that as a businessman he donated to local politicians for the good of his company.