Hindu-American emerges as Trump mega-donor

Hindu-American emerges as Trump mega-donor
© Jonathan Swan

CLEVELAND — A Hindu-American industrialist has emerged as one of Donald TrumpDonald John Trump Trump responds to calls to tear down monuments with creation of 'National Garden' of statues Trump: Children are taught in school to 'hate their own country' Trump accuses those tearing down statues of wanting to 'overthrow the American Revolution' MORE’s biggest financial backers, saying his support for Trump proves the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is not a racist. 

“A lot of people think that Trump is somewhat of a racist," said Shalabh "Shalli" Kumar, a Chicago-based businessman and Republican donor. 

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“His partnership with the Republican Hindu Coalition will set that aside.” 

India-born Kumar, founder and head of the Republican Hindu Coalition, is one of only a handful of donors in the country to contribute what Trump fundraisers colloquially call the “double max” — the holy grail of campaign fundraising in the 2016 cycle. 

Kumar is sending $898,800 to Trump Victory, the joint fundraising arrangement between the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and 11 state parties. The Republican Hindu Coalition, as a non-profit entity, is not coordinating with the Trump campaign but is generally supportive of Trump. 

While the individual maximum donation is $449,400, the “double max” is when fundraisers find a wealthy donor who will also give the maximum contribution in the name of his wife, as Kumar has done. 

Kumar whose company AVG Advanced Technologies manufactures and sells electronics products, flew in from India on Saturday morning and went straight to the Hamptons to meet with Trump at a mansion there. 

He said he was so impressed by Trump — it was the first time the two had met — that by Saturday afternoon Kumar had wired $449,400 to Trump Victory. A matching check from Kumar’s wife will be sent on Wednesday. 

“That’s just a start. That’s the seed money,” Kumar told The Hill in an interview at Cleveland’s tony Renaissance Hotel during the first day of the Republican National Convention on Monday. 

During their meeting, Kumar was especially won over by Trump’s tough words for Pakistan, India’s neighbor and nemesis; and the businessman praised Trump’s views on Muslim profiling. 

“The way the Muslim religion is being practiced today — it’s not the religion but the way it is being practiced today — there’s something wrong,” Kumar said. 

“The policy setting is that we need to have a lot of scrutiny. I totally agree with [former Speaker] Newt Gingrich [R-Ga.]: Mosques should be monitored completely, vetting should be taking place. ... I am totally for profiling. If you need to profile, what is the fuss?

“He has to do whatever [it takes] and he is the strongest that has come about in the last 45 years. … On national defense, he will be stronger than Reagan,” Kumar added.

Trump told Kumar in their meeting that Pakistan cannot be trusted as a U.S. ally, and he talked about how Osama bin Laden was housed on Pakistani soil when he was found and killed by U.S. forces. 

Trump impressed Kumar further by telling him he wanted to strengthen the U.S.-India relationship and improve trade between the countries to counteract the rise of China. 

The Trump campaign didn’t respond to questions about his meeting with Kumar. 

Kumar was already sold on supporting Trump before he met the presumptive GOP nominee, but he had a few lingering concerns that he wanted to iron out in a one-on-one meeting. 

“His positions were not very clear. Sometimes he says off-the-cuff remarks about call centers in India … so I was a little bit concerned about that,” Kumar said. 

Kumar was referring to Trump’s campaign trail wisecrack about Indian call center workers and Trump’s use of a mock Indian accent

While Kumar didn’t bring up the call center mocking in his conversation with Trump, he said he was reassured that Trump loves India and the Indian people. 

“I have seen his heart,” Kumar said. 

“He indicated … that the 21st should be an Indo-American century.” 

Kumar has pledged to personally spend $2 million on Republican candidates this cycle.  

No super-PAC yet exists for that money, but “that is being organized,” Kumar said. 

Through his group, the Republican Hindu Coalition, which launched last November and held an event Tuesday morning in Cleveland to coincide with the convention, Kumar plans to raise another $10 million to help Republicans in vulnerable swing seats, including Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic proposal to extend 0 unemployment checks Senate Democrats offer plan to extend added jobless benefits during pandemic Senators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls MORE (Ohio), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBottom line Bottom line Bottom Line MORE (N.H.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonRepublicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday Senate Republicans defend Trump's response on Russian bounties MORE (Wis.). 

“There’s about 4 million [Indian-Americans] that should be very, very natural allies of the Republican Party and of Trump,” Kumar told The Hill.