Groups of wealthy Republicans privately fundraising for Clinton

Lifelong Republican staffers and lobbyists press fellow GOP members to reject Trump

Groups of wealthy Republicans unhappy with nominee Donald Trump have been privately courting prominent peers to join them in backing Democrat Hillary Clinton's US presidential bid, sources involved in the effort have said.

They say they are seeking money and endorsements from other Republicans disillusioned by Mr Trump, their party’s candidate for the November 8th election. Some have received encouragement from Mrs Clinton and members of her campaign staff.

"I made the decision that I wouldn't be able to look at my grandkids if I voted for Trump," said Dan Webb, a former federal prosecutor and a self-described "Republican for decades" working to win over prominent Republican business people in Chicago.

Mr Trump, a New York developer making his first run at public office, has made traditional Republican donors uneasy with inflammatory statements about women, Mexicans, Muslims and war veterans, among others.

Prominent Wall Street donors can make a difference for Mrs Clinton given that they could inject a considerable amount of money into her campaign. They might also influence moderate Republicans to switch sides. In addition, their support of Mrs Clinton challenges Mr Trump’s assertion that his business successes make him a better candidate for president.

With the political conventions barely over, the Grand Old Party (GOP) efforts to fundraise for Mrs Clinton is at an early stage. Some of the groups have yet to receive contributions because they must still file paperwork under campaign finance rules.

Mr Trump's spokeswoman Hope Hicks declined to comment. Mrs Clinton's spokesman Jesse Ferguson said business leaders are supporting her because of her economic plan and because Mr Trump "cannot be trusted to lead our economy."

Grassroots organisation

Groups formed to support Mrs Clinton include Republicans for Her 2016, run by Republican lobbyist

Craig Snyder

; a grassroots organisation called R4C16, led by

John Stubbs

and

Ricardo Reyes

, officials in former president George W Bush’s administration; and the Republican Women for Hillary group co-led by

Jennifer Pierotti Lim

, an official at the US chamber of commerce.

The first two groups are acting independently of Mrs Clinton’s own effort. The third is acting in concert with her campaign.

“We wanted to go out there and be the voice for Republicans who were feeling wary about Trump and weird about publicly endorsing Hillary,” said Pierotti Lim, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention at the Clinton team’s invitation.

On Wednesday, billionaire hedge fund manager Seth Klarman said he would work to get Mrs Clinton elected because of comments by Trump he found "shockingly unacceptable".

Although Mr Klarman – president and chief executive of the Baupost Group, one of the largest hedge funds in the world – is a registered independent, a review of filings shows his political donations have largely benefited Republicans over the years, including some of Mr Trump's rivals in the state-by-state nominating contests this year.

Jim Cicconi, a former Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush White House staff member and lifelong Republican, said he went public with his decision to support Clinton "to encourage others in my situation to do the same thing."

“I feel like I need to do something more than quietly pulling the lever,” he said. “I’m willing to assist the campaign in any way that they want me to help.”

– (Reuters)