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Donald Trump got serious about raising money for his presidential campaign, saying Thursday he has named Hollywood insider Steven Mnuchin as his national finance chairman, an appointment that’s sure to raise eyebrows in some Republican circles.
Not that Trump has shown signs that he cares much about controversy.
For starters, Mnuchin, the wealthy chairman of Dune Entertainment Partners, has donated more money to Democrats than he has to Republicans, including $7,000 to the Senate campaign of Hillary Clinton, whom Trump is likely to face in the general election for president. Trump, though, also has a history of giving money to both parties.
Mnuchin, who did not make himself available for an interview, also partnered on a hedge fund with billionaire George Soros, who has practically made it his life mission to discredit Republicans.
Soros has provided funds to the progressive group Media Matters for America, which has issued a steady stream of anti-Trump missives over the past several months. Soros also is one of the primary donors behind a $15 million effort to mobilize Latinos in an effort to defeat Trump.
Also ironic is that Mnuchin made a small fortune at Goldman Sachs, were he worked for 17 years, and Trump used to criticize former GOP rival Ted Cruz because his wife worked there. “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over him, just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton,” Trump said three months ago.
Trump also has criticized hedge-fund professionals in general, suggesting they aren’t paying their fair share of taxes. Trump said on CBS, for example, that a lot of hedge fund managers are mere “paper-pushers. They make a fortune, they pay no tax, it’s ridiculous.”
But on Thursday, Trump was very enthusiastic in announcing Mnuchin’s appointment by way of a press release at the candidate’s website.
“Steven is a professional at the highest level with an extensive and very successful financial background,” said Trump. “He brings unprecedented experience and expertise to a fundraising operation that will benefit the Republican Party and ultimately defeat Hillary Clinton.”
Mnuchin, 52, is a Yale University graduate who roomed with Eddie Lampert, future CEO and primary owner of Sears. After Mnuchin left Goldman Sachs in 2002, he joined Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL.
A few months later, he took the job of CEO at SFM Capital Management, a hedge fund backed with $1 billion from Soros. Shortly thereafter, Mnuchin founded Dune Capital with Chip Seelig and Daniel Neidich.
Dune started financing films in 2006, striking a $500 million deal with Fox a year later, providing money for the production of Avatar and some X-Men movies, and later Dune did a similar deal with Warner Bros.
In 2013, Mnuchin merged his Dune Entertainment with Brett Ratner and James Packer’s RatPac to create RatPac-Dune Entertainment, which co-produced American Sniper and Mad Max: Fury Road. A year later, Mnuchin invested in Relativity Media and joined Ryan Kavanaugh’s company as non-executive co chairman, but left just before Relativity filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last summer.
“It’s a great privilege to be working with Mr. Trump to create a world-class finance organization to support the campaign in the general election,” Mnuchin said Thursday in a press release.
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