Donald Trump, the Ozymandian real estate mogul and Republican presidential candidate, is so phenomenally, breathtakingly rich that puny financial disclosure forms designed for normal humans cannot possibly contain, or even accurately reflect, the magnitude of his immense wealth.
Trump made that abundantly clear in a painfully boorish press release issued by his campaign Wednesday. The occasion of the release was the news that Trump had filed the personal financial disclosure forms required by federal elections law. Notably absent from the announcement were the forms themselves, but the release (which one suspects might have been dictated by Trump himself) argued that the forms really weren’t terribly useful anyway.
“This report was not designed for a man of Mr. Trump's massive wealth,” it noted. “For instance, they have boxes once a certain number is reached that simply state $50 million or more. Many of these boxes have been checked. As an example, if a building owned by Mr. Trump is worth $1.5 billion, the box checked is “$50,000,000 or more.”
The release went on … and on … ”Mr. Trump's net worth has increased since the more than one year old financial statement produced at his presidential announcement … As of this date, Mr. Trump's net worth is in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS.”
Yes, the all-caps braggadocio was in the release itself.
Trump was roundly abused in the media for flaunting his supposed wealth, and there are many who question whether he is worth more than a fraction of what he claims to be. But it’s hard to argue with success, and for the moment success is what Trump is enjoying. He leads national polls of GOP primary voters and his approval numbers among Republicans have flipped, almost overnight, from overwhelmingly negative to a substantial net positive.
What’s most incredible about Trump’s candidacy, though, is that people are sending money to the man who just won’t shut up about how [insert overwrought adverb here] rich he is.
In addition to the financial disclosure Trump filed, he also submitted his first fundraising disclosure. The report covers only the first two weeks of Trump’s campaign – he announced on June 16 and the report goes through June 30 – but somehow Trump already had more than 1,000 people sending him their cash.
According to the campaign, it received 1,052 donations amounting to $92,249.33. Of those, 94 percent of the donations were for $200 or less, and of those the average donation was about $40.
Now in the end, this isn’t a lot of money. Trump is self-funding the campaign and has loaned the committee $1.8 million so far. By comparison, the $92,249.33 he’s received in unsolicited donations is a pittance. And it’s nothing compared to the more than $100 million that the Super PAC supporting former Florida governor Jeb Bush has raked in.
But allow it to sink in for a moment. In the space of two weeks, more than 1,000 of your fellow human beings thought it was a good idea to send their money to Donald Trump – the guy whose primary activity seems to be traveling around the country to tell people how stinking rich he is.
Let’s break it down. If 94 percent of the donors gave under $250 that means 989 people sent Trump an average of $40. Yes, there are nearly 1,000 people on this planet who couldn’t come up with a better thing to do with $40 than to give it to a self-obsessed billionaire.
And the remaining 63 donors? Well, they were actually responsible for the bulk of the money, giving a total of $52,551, with an average donation of $834.
There’s a line by journalist H.L. Mencken that’s often paraphrased, but seems well worth quoting at some length here.
“No one in this world, so far as I know … has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times