GW staff support for Clinton trumps GOP donations

GW employees have given less money to a Republican presidential nominee this election cycle than they have in any race since 2000.

Employees donating to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton outspent contributors to Republican nominee Donald Trump by more than $356 for every dollar spent to Trump. Clinton raked in about $178,000 and Trump received more than $500 from GW employees, according to campaign contribution data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

In past presidential election cycles, faculty and staff members have traditionally given more money to Democratic candidates and the Democratic Party than to Republicans. In the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, employees gave more than $500,000 to Democrats, compared to the $95,000 they gave to Republicans.

In total, employees gave $320,835 to political campaigns, leadership, parties and committees this year, placing the University in the top 7 percent of organizations that made contributions in this election cycle.

The top recipients of funds from staff members are Clinton, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and the Democratic National Committee Services Corporation. The highest ranking Republican to receive donations was Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., for his failed 2016 presidential bid.

GW posted smaller total contributions this year than Georgetown University, where employees contributed a total of $576,872 to candidates, committees and PACs – with $267,848 for Clinton and $1,002 for Trump. These totals are more than American University, where staff contributed a total of $246,225 to candidates, committees and PACs, with $89,043 for Clinton and no money for Trump.

University President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg has given $1,250 to Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Trachtenberg said he believes that giving money to candidates is the “American way of citizen participation” because it allows citizens to be more directly involved in political decisions.

Clinton was an obvious choice when deciding where to donate money this season, Trachtenberg said.

“I’ve been a Democrat all my life,” he said. “In the past I’ve been tempted to vote Republican because some of the candidates have been so boring. But in this election there has been such a stark difference that I felt compelled to support her.”

Charlene Bickford, the director of the First Federal Congress Project at GW, has given $4,570 to Clinton directly and through PACs since Clinton announced her campaign last April. Bickford said she has supported Clinton from her earliest days in politics.

“I’ve been a huge supporter of the Clintons since 1992,” Bickford said. “I’ve been watching this since Ready for Hillary was formed. She is more than qualified to become president.”

Mike Alford, the director of financial systems and security at the Office of Information Technology, is one of the four staff or faculty members who made a $20 donation to Trump.

Alford said that he considers donating money a better way of contributing to a campaign, compared to volunteering time.

“I supported [with donations] Ron Paul and was so turned off by the maneuver of the Republicans before the Republican National Convention, that I supported another candidate after Ron dropped out,” he said. “In the presidential campaign before that, I supported Ron Paul. Support means with occasional financial donations and a vote.”

Several faculty and staff members made the maximum individual donation amount of $2,700, according to the Federal Elections Commission. Diane Knapp, the wife of University President Steven Knapp, made $8,000 in donations to the Democratic Congressional and Senate Campaign committee, the pro-choice lobbying group EMILY’s List and the Senate campaign of alumna Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D.-Ill., this year.

Jonathan Siegel, a research professor at GW Law School, said that his decision to give $2,000 to directly support Clinton stems from his overall views on how both major party candidates would handle significant issues.

“The number one issue for me is the Supreme Court,” Siegel said. “The Court is currently split 4–4, and Clinton will appoint better justices. The next most important issue is that Trump lacks the temperament and character to be president, whereas Clinton has the right experience.”

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