WASHINGTON ― When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker faced a challenging recall election in 2012 he went on a mad scramble to raise massive contributions from wealthy donors and corporations to give to a nonprofit supporting his campaign. His hunt for money brought him to the doorstep of Donald Trump, the current Republican presidential nominee.
According to leaked documents from a controversial investigation into Walker’s recall election obtained by The Guardian, Walker had a 45-minute scheduled meeting with Trump in the billionaire’s Manhattan offices on April 3, 2012. Walker was raising funds for Wisconsin Club for Growth, a dark money nonprofit group aiding his campaign, as part of an effort to avoid disclosure laws, contribution limits and solicit corporate contributions. Trump wrote a check to the nonprofit group for $15,000 that same day.
Throughout the Republican primary campaign Trump noted that his campaign contributions enabled him to get politicians to do his bidding. “As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do,” he told the Wall Street Journal in 2015.
Trump’s five-figure check was nowhere near the amounts provided by the usual suspects rounded up by Walker. Billionaire Republican donors Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer chipped in six-figure donations as did a number of nonprofits associated with the Koch brothers. Steve Cohen, a billionaire hedge fund operator, kicked in $1 million and $2 million came in from Wisconsin-based billionaire John Menard, Jr.
In typical Trump fashion, the billionaire made himself appear ever more generous to Walker by exaggerating the amount he donated. When the two ran in the crowded Republican primary, Trump recounted to a Wisconsin crowd that he “gave [Walker] fifty or a hundred thousand dollars.” As previously mentioned, Trump actually wrote a check for $15,000.
“That’s a lot of money for a guy you’d never met before, right?” Trump proclaimed despite having written the check to Walker after hosting the Wisconsin governor in his own offices.
Trump went on to mock Walker for later going back to Manhattan to give Trump a plaque of some kind to thank him for his donation. This was part of Trump’s primary strategy of defining himself as above the sycophantic politicians sucking up to people like him for money.
“He was fighting and I gave him a lot of money and he came up you know a year ago or so and he gave me a plaque. Beautiful picture of something ― I haven’t, I never really got to read it to be honest with you, and I put it aside,” Trump said to laughs from the crowd. “That was it.”
That wasn’t it. Trump continued to use his contribution to Walker to mock his primary opponent.
“I just had my girl find it,” he continued. “She just called, she said, ‘Mr. Trump I’ve just found it.’ A wonderful woman comes up and she says ― and I say ‘Where is it?’ and she says ‘I think I know,’ and she found it ― under a pile of a lot of other plaques.”
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.