Trump praises Gilbert despite $150K gift to Clinton

Jonathan Oosting

Walker, Mich. – Dan Gilbert has done “a great job” in Detroit, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Monday, praising his fellow businessman who recently contributed to a joint fund benefiting Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“We’re going to help you rebuild Detroit,” Trump told a crowd of thousands during a west Michigan rally. “Mr. Gilbert’s done a great job – friend of mine – he’s done a great job.”

Gilbert has bought and rehabilitated buildings in downtown Detroit, moved his mortgage company from the suburbs to downtown as well as bought the Greektown casino. The Quicken Loans chairman has said little about the 2016 presidential race, but speculation over which candidate he is backing has swirled since Trump held a Sept. 30 fundraiser at the Chrysler House building owned by Gilbert and other investors.

The big-ticket fundraiser sparked a small protest the following day in downtown Detroit, where critics suggested that by allowing a Trump fundraiser in his building, Gilbert made an “implicit” statement of support for the New York real estate mogul.

But campaign finance reports filed last week with the Federal Election Commission show Gilbert and his wife, Jennifer, have each given $75,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising venture between the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties.

It’s not clear whether Trump knows about the contribution.

Gilbert has traditionally donated to Republican candidates. In June 2015, he gave $750,000 to a super political action committee supporting the presidential campaign of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who lost to Trump in the primaries.

Trump’s praise for Gilbert came as he touched on his recent urban renewal proposals, arguing minority-majority cities like Detroit and Flint have been decimated “by the policies of Clinton” and other Democrats.

“Look at the city of Detroit,” he said. “It used to be the manufacturing hub of the world. Now nearly half of Detroit residents don’t work. It has the second highest violent crime rate in the United States, and the children are trapped in horrible government schools.”

Trump did not detail his new policy plans in west Michigan, but last week in North Carolina he proposed creating tax holidays and incentives to spur inner-city investments and expanded ability for states to seek a federal disaster designation for blighted communities.

He also pitched new financial regulations he said would prioritize helping black business owners access credit and suggested allowing social welfare workers to turn poverty assistance into repayable but forgive-able micro-loans for small businesses.