Accused college admission scammers dig deep for bipartisan political donations

A Fox News analysis of political donations by the 50 individuals charged in the college admissions scandal shows that alleged corruption appears to know no political ideology.

Some of the alleged scammers made occasional contributions to individual candidates. Others, though, like Robert Flaxman, a real estate magnate who is charged in the scandal, gave small fortunes to both Republican and Democratic campaigns.

In 2012, Flaxman gave $50,000 to the Romney Victory Fund in support of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Four years later, in 2016, the 62-year-old founder of Crown Realty and Development supported Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton with a donation of the same amount to the Hillary Victory Fund.

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Felicity Huffman, a star of the show Desperate Housewives, has consistently donated to Democratic campaigns. Since 2003, she’s given over $11,000, according to Political Money Line and FEC records.

Her donation history shows a notable level of support for Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) over the past couple of years. Starting in 2016, Huffman gave the Kamala Harris for Senate organization over $2,000 in contributions.

While Huffman’s donations are indicative of her politics, others ensnared in the scandal gave tens of thousands of dollars to both Democrat and Republican candidates.

FEC records show that Flaxman began donating in 2007 with a bevy of contributions to Republican campaigns, including $19,600 to support John McCain. That year, he also gave $10,000 to the California Republican Party.

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Some of the alleged scammers like Robert Flaxman (left) and Manuel Henriquez (right) gave small fortunes to both Republican and Democratic campaigns. Felicity Huffman's donations appear staunchly Democrat however.

Some of the alleged scammers like Robert Flaxman (left) and Manuel Henriquez (right) gave small fortunes to both Republican and Democratic campaigns. Felicity Huffman's donations appear staunchly Democrat however. (Getty/Getty/Linkedin)

Most of Flaxman’s donations are small dollar amounts made to individual campaigns in 2016, but several top $2,000 – including $30,800 he gave to the Republican National Committee in 2012.

In 2016, he made at least 43 contributions to various candidates and party organizations. Again, his donations were bipartisan. The real estate magnate gave $2,700 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president and $33,400 to the Democratic National Convention. He also donated $2,700 to the Indiana Republican State Committee and the same amount to the campaign of Sen. Todd Young, an Indiana Republican.

Others had similarly bipartisan patterns of political donations. Manuel Henriquez, the founder of Hercules Capital who has been charged in the scandal, has given thousands of dollars to Democrat and Republican causes. In 2017, he donated $2,000 to Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) and in 2012 he gave $10,000 to the Obama Victory Fund.

Outside of his donation to Stivers, Henriquez, who began donating between 2003 and 2004, has largely supported Democratic causes. In 2004, he made a pair of $5,000 donations to the Democratic National Committee.

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The reasons for bipartisan donations are myriad, according to Brendan Quinn, a spokesperson at the Center for Responsive Politics. He said a donor supporting both Democrat and Republican candidates could be a simple as them having a personal connection or preference for the candidates.

Although Quinn couldn’t speak to the specific motivations of the Flaxman and others, he said it’s not uncommon for business owners and others to curry political favor with their donations.

A notable presence in the records of many of the donors is ActBlue, a PAC that aims to “democratize power and help small-dollar donors make their voices heard,” according to its website. Since its founding in 2004, the organization has raised more than $1 billion for Democratic candidates.

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Although the majority of the 50 indicted individuals have no history of donating to political causes, several of the ones that do have given small fortunes to politicians. Although California voter registrations are not readily available, the pattern of donations for several of the people shows strong democratic inclinations. Others, it appears, follow less stringent ideological lines with their political philanthropy.