- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2016

Hillary Clinton is threatening to raise their taxes, but wealthy Americans don’t appear to mind — they’ve given to her presidential campaign at record rates.

More than three-quarters of her contributions came from large-dollar donors who have given at least $200, including some 1,250 donors who “maxed out” to her campaign in July or August by giving a total of $5,400.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump, despite a tax plan that would most benefit the wealthy, is struggling to get them to pony up for his campaign. He attracted just 170 maxed-out donors in July and August — one-seventh the rate of Mrs. Clinton — while two-thirds of his contributions are from small-dollar donors who have given less than $200.

“That Trump has found some success in raising small contributions is not surprising,” said Anthony Corrado, government professor at Colby College who specializes in campaign finance. “His populist appeals, combined with the strong partisan opposition to Clinton, especially among conservatives, are well suited to online and direct mail small-donor fundraising. His campaign is finally starting to capitalize on his appeal to small donors, although they began very late in the process.”

Indeed, Mr. Trump didn’t even actively solicit funds for most of the primary, paying out of his own pocket for all but a slim fraction of his expenses.

Since becoming the GOP’s nominee, he’s hit the fundraising circuit, but also has doubled down on the online fundraising that worked so well for President Obama.

While not in Mr. Obama’s league, Mr. Trump did announce an online haul of $6 million in the immediate aftermath of last week’s debate, with the money flowing to both his campaign and his joint victory operation with the Republican National Committee.

Since June 1 small donors have given Mr. Trump almost $11 million more than they have given to Mrs. Clinton.

Still, Mrs. Clinton has been in a stronger financial position throughout the general election, capitalizing on the New York businessman’s slow start on the fundraising front and a well-established political network decades in the making.

The financial edge has been a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, she has been able to invest more on television ads and campaign staff. On the other hand, it has fed Mr. Trump’s attempts to cast her as a stooge for big donors.

Hillary Clinton is an insider fighting only for herself and for her donors,” Mr. Trump said Friday while campaigning in Michigan. “I’m an outsider fighting for you.”

Mrs. Clinton’s maxed-out donors shrugged off Mr. Trump’s accusations.

“Like so many of Trump’s lines, it just has no credibility,” said Warren Ross of Florida, who donated $2,700 to Mrs. Clinton in the primary and another $2,700 in the general after Mr. Trump emerged as her challenger.

Mr. Ross said he considers himself part of the top 1 percent based on income, and said he strongly favors people like himself paying more in taxes because he has become increasingly concerned about income equality in the nation.

Mr. Ross said he is surprised that the race is so close, and said Mr. Trump is playing off society’s “dark impulses” by appealing to people’s prejudices.

“It really is a bit of a struggle for the soul of the country,” he said of the election.

New Hampshire state Rep. Susan Almy said she pulled $5,400 out of her retirement account to help the Clinton campaign because she believes Mr. Trump would be a “total disaster” on the world stage, and Mrs. Clinton could finish some of the things Mr. Obama started, including transitioning away from fossil fuels.

“I think she is in the league of Lyndon Johnson as a politician, and that she is very, very, intelligent about policy,” Ms. Almy said.

As for the donation, she quipped, “As I get more worried about what has happened to the Republican Party, I get more reckless with my savings.”

Federal Election Commission records are broken down into un-itemized small-dollar donors — those who’ve given less than $200 in total, and whose names don’t need to be reported — and the large-dollar itemized contributions, where campaigns need to report names, addresses and occupations of those giving.

Mrs. Clinton has collected $218.6 million from large-dollar donors and $70.7 million from small-dollar givers, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That means big donors are 75.5 percent of her income — even more than 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s ratio.

Mr. Trump has collected $26.6 million from large-dollar givers, and $48.4 million from small donors — who make up nearly 65 percent of his contributions. That puts him above Mr. Obama, who shattered fundraising records with $234.4 million in small-dollar donations — which were still just 42.6 percent of his total.

Viveca Novak, of the Center for Responsive Politics, said that Mr. Trump’s investment in online fundraising seems to have paid off in netting a lot of small donors.

“His success here may also speak to a grass-roots base that finds him appealing,” she said.

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