Where Republicans Park All Their Campaign Cash

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Meet Chain Bridge Bank, the obscure financial institution with just one location where five Republicans presidential candidates stow their campaign cash.
Meet Chain Bridge Bank, the obscure financial institution with just one location where five Republican presidential candidates stow their campaign cash.

Voters weren’t banking on this.

Donald Trump continuing to be a blowhard by making controversial comments isn’t surprising, but five 2016 Republican presidential candidates keeping their campaign cash at the same politically connected bank will probably open the eyes of even the most cynical voter.

Americans know that big money has flooded into politics, but they might be somewhat shocked to learn that much of that campaign dough is kept in the same small bank located about half an hour outside of Washington, D.C.

“Some of the biggest presidential campaigns including Jeb Bush, Jeb Bush’s super PAC … Donald Trump, Scott Walker, all of them keep their money at this bank and it’s now become a specialist,” Bloomberg politics reporter Phil Mattingly wrote.

The obscure Chain Bridge Bank, which only has about 40 employees and was established in 2007 by former Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.), specializes as coffer of cash for television, radio and digital advertisements for several presidential candidates including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

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The bank’s one location and its business had once existed in the shadows of an indifferent luxury condo building in suburban McLean, Va., but after reports shed the light of inquiry onto its business, curious eyes will certainly descend to examine further. In addition to individual candidate’s campaign coin stashed there, the bank also holds accounts for super-Political Action Committee (PAC’s) for Ben Carson, Lindsey Graham, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker.

“The bank doubled its deposits in one month in 2008, and since then has just started a tradition,” Mattingly wrote.

Liberals and Democrats would surely love to attack this as an illegal, immoral or downright dirty financial doing, but Mattingly said there is not much untoward afoot there. According to him, the bank got its first big political donations in 2008 when John McCain — who is friends with Fitzgerald — ran for president, and the business just took off after that. McCain’s campaign had previously banked at Wachovia, which in 2008 was near dissolution after hemorrhaging billions in losses.

Two major features that separate Chain Bridge Bank from other banks are that it keeps the transfer wire open as late as the Federal Reserve does, and it hasn’t made depositors clear credit checks before issuing credit cards. Both of these differences encourage political campaigns — which Mattingly compared to startups — to hold accounts there because of the need to transfer money at later hours and to quickly get cash-on-hand to staffers at different sites spread around the country.

And though it’s odd that so many candidates keep their campaign cash there, nothing criminal is occurring. In fact, according to Mattingly, the bank is eschewing a more-profitable business model in favor of being the candidates chosen cashbox.

Calling it a “break even business now,” Maddingly added that “they’re doing this in a plain vanilla way, in a way that doesn’t make a ton of money. It’s just developing their business.”

And business is clearly good.

Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.

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