By hiring Paul Manafort, first as his convention manager and now as his campaign chairman, Donald Trump may have hoped to install a seasoned and respected political hand to round his youthful, unorthodox campaign team into place. But Manafort, a veteran of the Ford, Reagan, Bush and Dole campaigns, appears to be raising more and more questions as the campaign searches for answers, particularly about how it will raise the needed funds to take on the vaunted Clinton finance machine.
Manafort, a long-time lobbyist and international deal-maker, has been scrutinized for his connections to foreign dictators and the so-called “torturers’ lobby.” He has been questioned by authorities conducting an investigation into an international money laundering ring.
But perhaps most disturbing for supporters of Donald Trump may be allegations that Manafort is deliberately sandbagging pro-Trump fundraising efforts in an effort to expand his control and personal profits.
According to sources who claim direct knowledge of the situation, Manafort has been working through back channels to push donors away from existing fundraising vehicles, hampering their efforts. The goal, these sources say, is to ensure failure of the current finance operations in support of Trump, enabling Manafort to steer money to an as-yet unnamed PAC or committee that is controlled by his allies, who could then funnel big backdoor money to him after the election.
A former colleague of Manafort from the Reagan and Bush campaigns said such tactics are consistent with Manafort’s modus operandi. Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, the source was unequivocal, saying, “Paul Manafort cares about one thing: Paul Manafort, He will do whatever it takes to ensure his power and make a buck. Even if it undermines and damages his clients.”
I am not placed to assess these claims – and invite Manafort to exercise his right to reply – but it is clear that the allegations are themselves newsworthy, coming as they do at a very sensitive time for Trump.
After largely self-funding his primary campaign, Trump’s fundraising operation appears to be far behind that of Hillary Clinton. Perhaps Trump has an opportunity now to close ground on Hillary while she is engaged in her intra-party fight till the DNC in early August, but that it not very far into the future.
“Every day squandered by these games is a major setback in electing Donald G Trump president,” continued the source. “They need to stop.”