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Trump says Club for Growth attempted ‘shakedown’

(Prezography photo)

(Prezography photo)

By The Iowa Statesman

 

Republican presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump called this afternoon for the resignation of Club for Growth president David McIntosh and released a statement in which he accused the organization and its leader of an attempted “shakedown.” This in response to a press release issued by the organization Tuesday titled “Why Donald Trump should not be taken seriously as a GOP candidate and should not be included in the GOP debates.”

In that press release, McIntosh was quoted as saying, “Donald Trump is a great entertainer and developer, but his ideas of what to do as president won’t grow the economy. The Club for Growth has issued very substantive and detailed white papers on the records of the major announced Republican candidates for president.  There is no need to do a white paper on Donald Trump.  He is not a serious Republican candidate, and many of his positions make him better suited to take on Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. It would also be unfortunate if he takes away a spot at even one Republican debate. The 2016 Republican presidential field is already the most pro-growth in recent history, with great ideas for cutting taxes, repealing Obamacare and replacing it with patient-centered, free market reforms, and moving the country forward with free trade.”

Trump’s campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks, however, said McIntosh had a decidedly different tone just a few weeks prior to her candidate’s announcement that he would seek the Republican presidential nomination. In a statement sent to national media, Hicks said McIntosh met with Trump and his representatives at Trump Tower on May 26.

“During that meeting he praised Mr. Trump for his business success and talked about the need for someone like Mr. Trump to be in Washington, DC,” she said. “He then talked about the Club for Growth and what it is doing. The meeting lasted approximately 30 minutes.

“One week later, Mr. Trump and political advisor (now campaign manager) Corey Lewandowski received letters from Mr. McIntosh requesting $1 million dollars of financial support for the Club for Growth.”

Hicks also released a copy of the letter from McIntosh, dated June 2. It read:

Dear Corey,

I enjoyed meeting you recently in New York. Thank you for taking part in my meeting with Mr. Trump. I was grateful to have your involvement and input.
During our meeting, Mr. Trump expressed an interest in supporting the Club for Growth in its efforts to promote pro-growth, limited government policy.
Enclosed is a letter for Mr. Trump and a request for a $1,000,000 contribution to the Club for Growth.
My understanding is that the request is best facilitated through you. If you could please share my request with Mr. Trump I would be very grateful.
If you have any questions or need any additional information please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Sincerely,

[s] David McIntosh
Preident, Club for Growth

At first glance, the enclosed letter to Trump appears to be a standard fundraising “pitch letter.” In it, McIntosh refers to Trump on a first-name basis, and acknowledged that while they don’t agree on every issue, they shared “common ground.” However, it quickly appears to be a thinly veiled “pay to play” letter, offering a Club for Growth endorsement to the highest bidder.

The full text of the letter read:

Dear Donald,

I very much enjoyed our recent meeting in New York. While we don’t see eye to eye on every issue, it’s good to know that there is some common ground between us.
The Club for Growth is committed to promoting pro-growth, limited government policies, including: lower taxes, free-trade, and doing away with harmful government regulations that are preventing businesses from creating jobs and stimulating our economy. As we both know, it is business owners who create jobs — not the government.
To that end, the Club for Growth is actively researching candidates who share these fundamental American ideals and are willing to fight for them. Once the Club identifies a potential future champion of economic freedom, it polls to see if a path to victory exists.
If the Club is confident in the character of the candidate and the possibility of victory, then the Club’s PAC endorses the candidate and plays a vital role in helping elect him/her to Congress.When we met, you expressed interest in helping to fund the Club for Growth’s efforts to fight for economic freedom.
That is why I am hoping you will consider making a generous contribution for $1 million to the Club for Growth.
This contribution would have a dramatically positive impact on the Club’s ability to identify future free-enterprise champions. I hope that I can count on your support.

Sincerely,

[s] David McIntosh
President, Club for Growth

Trump did not donate to Club for Growth. Following McIntosh’s attack through Club for Growth PAC, he has called for the organization’s leader’s “immediate resignation,” and included the following comment: “I am appalled by Mr. McIntosh’s shameless pandering and blatant shakedown attempt, exposing him and the Club for Growth as a fraud.”

In her statement to the media, Hicks said the situation “exemplifies everything that is wrong with politics in our country.”

“Club for Growth claims to fight for conservative causes and support Republican candidates who oppose politics as usual, and apparently will say anything in an effort to raise funds,” she said. “This unfortunate incident is representative of the corruption that persists in Washington, D.C., and politics in general, in the United States.”

Club for Growth representatives have not yet responded to a request for comment about Trump’s claims. This article will be updated if there is a response.