Though Donald Trump may repeatedly invoke his Wharton degree as a symbol of his academic prowess, one professor there wants nothing more than to see the 1968 Wharton graduate flop in the November general election. And, he isn’t afraid to pony up some cash to make that happen.
Wharton adjunct associate professor Eric Schoenberg paid the Democratic National Committee over $100,000 this year, including a $75,000 wire transfer to help pay for the costs of the Philadelphia convention, according to the email records of senior DNC officials released by WikiLeaks last week. His reasoning is not too difficult to parse out.
“I think Donald Trump is a potential disaster and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he isn’t president. The Democrats are the only game in town to that regard,” Schoenberg said in an interview with The Daily Pennsylvanian.
Schoenberg, who will teach a class at Wharton in the fall on family wealth, upped his political contributions by over 718 percent in order to stop Trump. During the 2014 election cycle, he only gave $13,250, according to public donation records. In 2012, a presidential election year, he gave even less at just $11,750.
While his donations were made months ago, the revelation of Schoenberg’s contributions comes soon after the circulation of an open letter from Wharton alumni, students and faculty decrying Trump, a 1968 Wharton graduate. As of July 25, the has 3,694 signatures.
“This man, Donald Trump, represents a true threat to our democracy and our system of government,” Schoenberg said, adding that he “substantially increased” his political contributions this year specifically to fight Trump.
A DP analysis of public donation records and leaked DNC emails estimates Schoenberg’s total donations to the DNC in 2016 to be at least $100,000, not including the $500 he gave to Josh Gottheimer, a former Bill Clinton speechwriter and candidate for Congress in New Jersey, and the untold amount he may have given to super PACs, whose donor lists are not recorded.
Schoenberg has repeatedly spoken out in the past against income inequality and the corrosive influence of corporate money in politics, including in a where he admitted to paying only 1 percent of his income in federal income tax in 2009.
As a member of the advisory board for Patriotic Millionaires, a group of “200, high-net worth Americans who are committed to building a more prosperous, stable, and inclusive nation,” he has declared himself in support of “less political influence for those whose sole credential is the ability to pay for it,” one of the group’s goals according to its website.
He acknowledged the apparent conflict in his support for less corporate influence on politics while still having contributed large sums of money to a political party, including one large donation which went allegedly unrecorded in public records.
“I would dearly love to reform the system so people aren’t able to give extreme amounts of money to parties and candidates,” he said, but “it makes no sense to unilaterally disarm.”
Party officials earmarked his wire transfer for the Democratic National Convention. The impetus for Schoenberg’s donation was to attend a New York fundraiser with President Barack Obama, at which the most expensive ticket was $33,500. The fundraiser was of BuzzFeed chairman Kenneth Lerer, and garnered some controversy at the time because BuzzFeed had just cut off an advertising deal with the Republican National Committee.
In a May 13 email discussing his $75,000 transfer, DNC National Finance Director Jordan Kaplan asked, “Why did they give 75,” referring to Schoenberg and his wife, Alexandra, who attended the Obama fundraiser with him. DNC Finance Chair Zachary Allen responded, “Convention.”
Director of Online Projects Andrew Fischer contributed reporting.
This story has been updated to reflect that Schoenberg's donation to the DNC was publicly recorded.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.