Hotel magnate Donald Trump donated $5,000 to Sen. Ted Cruz’s leadership PAC in January, according to new campaign records.
Trump’s show of support for the Texas Republican's leadership PAC — the maximum allowed under the law per election cycle — is an indication that the men are becoming political allies.
But in the months that followed, Trump has spoken favorably about the Tea Party darling, who has been faring well in polls of possible 2016 contenders while making trips to Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida.
At a Republican event at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, Trump called Cruz a “very special guy.”
“One of the reasons I like Ted Cruz so much, is that he’s not controversial,” he said at the Palm Beach County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner in February, drawing laughs from the crowd.
“He shouldn’t be controversial because what he is doing is right. He took a stand recently, that if he had just a little backing — and Ted and I have spoken about this — from other Republicans … he would have negotiated one hell of a deal. It might not have ended ObamaCare, but you would have really gotten a big chunk out of it,” Trump added, speaking about last year’s government shutdown fight. “I mean, [Republicans] they hit him harder than they hit the Democrats.”
In the speech, Trump said that in addition to Cruz’s 21-hour speech on the Senate floor rallying against the Affordable Care Act, he had seen the Texas senator speak on “numerous occasions.”
A media report from November cited an unnamed Cruz spokeswoman calling the two men “friends” who had spoken many times on the phone since meeting last year, and said Cruz visited Trump Tower during a trip to New York.
“Mr. Trump is a friend and the senator had some down time in NYC,” a Cruz spokeswoman told Politico.
Members of the Cruz camp did not respond to a request from The Hill for comment about the Trump donation. Michael Cohen, an executive vice president and special counsel to Trump, said it was too early to question whether “The Apprentice” host was considering backing Cruz or anyone else for president.
Trump has spoken publicly in recent months about other Republican presidential contenders, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
During the 2012 election season, GOP presidential hopefuls made visits to Trump Tower in New York City to court the billionaire, who eventually endorsed Mitt Romney.
The Federal Election Committee’s (FEC) individual donor database has not yet been updated to include the donation, but it shows that Trump also gave $1,000 to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) in March.
FEC records show Trump has donated more than $127,000 during this election cycle so far, including to the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) and $50,000 to the Kentuckians for Strong Leadership political action committee.
The Jobs, Growth and Freedom Fund — Cruz’s leadership PAC — took in nearly $143,500 from January to March, according to recently filed reports with the Federal Election Commission, which includes a $66,100 transfer from his own campaign committee.
Traditionally used by more senior members of Congress to gain influence and build alliances, leadership PACs have become more common among new members. The PACs are especially common in the Senate, where members raise larger sums of money than in the House.
During the first three months of the year, Cruz’s leadership PAC gave $2,500 each to the campaigns of Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe (Okla.) and Jim Risch (Idaho).