Much has been said about how Vice President-elect Mike Pence, with his 12 years as a congressman, could be incoming President Donald Trump’s bridge to Congress. But Trump has his own ties to the Hill, in the form of nearly two decades worth of political contributions to sitting members of the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle.
Trump has donated to the campaigns of 44 current members of Congress, according to a Roll Call review of Federal Election Commission electronic records that are available since 1997. Nineteen of those members are in the Senate, and 25 are in the House.
LoBiondo has received more individual donations from the president-elect than any other current member — 10 in all. Trump, however, has given more money to two others.
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona tops the list with seven donations totaling $8,600. Second is Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, who accepted eight donations totaling $7,900.
Trump has picked fights with both those senators since he announced his run for president — famously questioning McCain’s heroism in July 2015 and, more recently, calling Schumer the “head clown” of the Democratic Party in a tweet.
Trump also gave to Schumer’s Republican counterpart: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Kentucky Republican received $5,200 from Trump in 2013, one year before a successful re-election campaign that secured his position as the Senate’s most powerful member.
In total, Trump has given $88,500 to sitting Republicans, and $24,000 to sitting Democrats — who make up seven of the 44 current members he’s given to.
Sarah Binder, a congressional expert at George Washington University, doesn’t think these donations will affect the way members interact with the president-elect. The usual mechanics of Washington and the pressure to please constituents at home will be more powerful forces than Trump’s past giving, Binder said.
“Of course, it’s possible that Trump tweets out attacks on the Democrats or Republicans that he contributed to if they turn or vote against him,” she said. “But lawmakers know where their bread is buttered — back home with voters.”
The most recent of Trump’s contributions to individual members came in the spring of 2015, when he gave to Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Dean Heller of Nevada and Reps. Dan Donovan of New York and Dave Brat of Virginia.
The president-elect has also given to the campaigns of two GOP members he’s chosen for Cabinet-level positions: Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, his attorney general pick, and South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney, his choice for Office of Management and Budget director.
Trump said during his presidential campaign that his political giving forced politicians to do him favors, declaring, “Our system is broken.”
“I give to everybody,” he said at the first GOP primary debate in August 2015. “When they call, I give. And do you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me.”
Asked if the president-elect received favors from McCain, a spokeswoman for the senator said in an email that she’d received some “stupid” questions from reporters over the years, but “this one might take the cake.”