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Donald Trump donated to Illinois Republicans, Democrats

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WASHINGTON — Billionaire Donald Trump, the GOP presidential front-runner, likes to say he used to give political donations to “everybody,” and through the years that has included Democrats and Republicans from Illinois.

Trump is mainly bankrolling his own campaign, so in his view he stands on higher moral ground than his rivals who have to go out and raise funds. Trump knows a lot about sucking up to donors because he was on the receiving end of the pleas before he launched his White House bid.

Rival Jeb Bush is a favorite Trump target.

As Trump gleefully tweeted on Tuesday, “I’m self-funding my campaign but lobbyists & special interests for Jeb & others are starting to do big ads — desperate! Don’t believe them.”

At the first Republican debate in Cleveland last month, Trump regaled viewers with a story about how Hillary Clinton “had no choice” but to attend his wedding because he was a donor to the Clinton Foundation.

OPINION

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Said Trump at the debate, “I will tell you that our system is broken. I gave to many people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. 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.”

In Illinois, Trump threw around money through the years, according to Illinois State Board of Election records:

  • $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel’s first mayoral campaign on Dec. 23, 2010.
  • $10,000 to the Cook County Democratic Party on July 9, 2007, and $2,500 to the same fund in May 27, 2005.
  • $5,000 to Citizens for Alderman Reilly on Dec. 13, 2010, and $500 on May 8, 2008.
  • $2,000 to Friends of Blagojevich on Nov. 19, 2007; $2,000 to the same fund on Oct. 3, 2002. Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts in New York sent $2,000 to the Blagojevich war chest on July 21, 2003.
  • $5,000 to Citizens for George Ryan on June 27, 2001, and $5,000 to the same fund on June 30, 1998.
  • Fourteen $339 donations from the Trump International Hotel and Tower, 401 N. Wabash, to the Illinois Hotel and Motel PAC between 2008 and 2015.
  • Trump Tower hotel gave two donations totaling $450 to the Green Industry PAC in 2010 and 2011.

Trump’s Chicago hotel is in the 42nd Ward, represented by Ald. Brendan Reilly, the vice mayor.

“I met Donald Trump on numerous occasions leading up to the opening of the Trump Tower,” Reilly told me on Thursday.

Reilly said the two spent “meaningful time” at a topping off ceremony at the end of 2008.

Reilly said Trump asked “what I do as alderman. He tried to poke around a bit about my political philosophy.” Reilly said he told him he was a pro-business alderman on the City Council.

“We, I think, generally hit it off,” Reilly said.

To raise money, Reilly has created a Downtown Leadership Council, which offers membership at three levels: $1,500, $5,000 and $10,000 annually. The $5,000 and $10,000 local givers get a perk: two events a year when Reilly brings in a speaker.

So when it came time to “recruit new people for this business people group, Mr. Trump” was on his list to solicit.

“I respect Mr. Trump as a business owner in Chicago. I don’t believe in his political views,” said Reilly, who is also the 42nd Ward Democratic Committeeman.

Reilly did support Trump getting that big sign on his hotel in 2014. As for being told what to do by Trump, “Certainly there was no quid pro quo,” Reilly said.

Follow Lynn Sweet on Twitter: @LynnSweet

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