Rakolta meets a different kind of Donald Trump


John Rakolta Jr., CEO of the Detroit-based Walbridge construction company, is regarded as one of the top fundraisers in Republican politics, having served as finance chairman of Mitt Romney’s two presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

He knows where to get the money that fuels the GOP.

So when Donald Trump’s campaign called Rakolta earlier this summer for assistance, Rakolta said yes under one condition: He wanted to meet Trump in person. The reason, Rakolta said, is when he asks wealthy people for campaign donations, they usually want to know what the candidate is like.

“They were all too happy to accommodate me,” he said in a recent interview.

In early July, Rakolta said he traveled to Chicago and met with Trump one-on-one at one of Trump’s hotels. He described Trump as soft-spoken and a good listener, painting a different portrait of the bombastic candidate on the stump.

“You can tell when a person’s listening and they’re not. He was focused on me and what I had to say,” Rakolta said. “He peppered me with question after question about the subject matter we were talking about.

“It was the first time in my political career, if you will, that someone had focused that much attention on me,” he added.

To donate, give bitcoin

Many candidates for office in Michigan are asking friends, family and strangers for cold hard cash to underwrite their campaigns.

Then there’s Tiffany Hayden, a 38-year-old single mom from Garden City who is running as the Libertarian candidate in the 13th Congressional District in a long-shot bid to topple longtime U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Detroit.

Hayden is asking supporters for donations in bitcoin, the digital currency that is not recognized by the U.S. Treasury’s central banking system.

“The only reason I’m interested in bitcoin is it cuts out all of the middle men,” she said.

So far, though, Hayden said she has raised more money in good old dollars. She has received about $800 and the equivalent of $600 in bitcoin.

The Federal Election Commission allows congressional candidates to accept bitcoin, but Hayden said the agency’s guidelines are a bit murky. “They make it a real pain in the butt to accept bitcoin. … There’s no hard and fast rules, which makes it a little scary,” she said.

Hayden’s campaign website says she can accept a maximum bitcoin donation worth $50. Based on the conversion of 1,000 bits being worth 58.4 cents, Hayden’s backers can make a maximum bitcoin donation of 85,616 bits.

Surveying state by motorcycle

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters will cruise 12 Michigan counties during a five-day motorcycle tour from east to west Michigan, starting Monday, according to his office.

Peters’ tour stops include Iosco, Alcona, Crawford, Clare, Osceola, Mecosta, Newaygo, Allegan, Van Buren, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties. He’s visiting a farm, a vineyard, a harbor and dam, a rural clinic, among other sites.

Peters is also scheduled to meet with veterans at a Harley dealership in Sturgis, where they’ll go on a ride together.

Peters owns a Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide and an 1100cc BMW. He’ll be riding the Harley for the tour. His office says Peters’ ride will let him discuss his efforts to help Michigan’s small businesses, manufacturers and infrastructure.

Prosecutor: ‘Trump is right’

Donald Trump’s press shop has sent out a litany of statements from Republican allies like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the Clinton Foundation after new revelations of links between the charity and Democrat Hillary Clinton’s State Department.

Then there is Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz.

“Donald Trump is right — the Clinton pay-to-play scheme where she appears to have traded State Department access for donations to the Clinton Foundation demands a special prosecutor,” Fitz said Tuesday in a statement released by Trump’s Michigan campaign.

The former president of the Michigan Prosecutor’s Association said the U.S. Justice Department will not investigate the Democratic presidential candidate “in any serious way.”

Contributors: Chad Livengood and Melissa Nann Burke