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Donald Trump names hedge fund veteran as finance chairman

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has touted his ability to self-fund most of his campaign, named a hedge fund veteran on Thursday as finance chairman for his general election bid.

Steven Mnuchin, chairman and CEO of Dune Capital Management, said in a statement he will help Trump "create a world-class finance organization" to fuel his campaign. Mnuchin previously was chairman of OneWest Bank Group and was a partner at Goldman Sachs.

"Steven is a professional at the highest level with an extensive and very successful financial background. He brings unprecedented experience and expertise to a fundraising operation that will benefit the Republican Party and ultimately defeat Hillary Clinton," Trump said in a statement.

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump
Jewel Samad | AFP | Getty Images
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump

The billionaire businessman repeatedly touted his ability to self-fund his GOP primary campaign. While his campaign committee had taken in about $12 million in donations by the end of March, Trump himself had loaned it about $36 million.

The creation of a larger finance organization is necessary for a general election effort. However, it raises questions about Trump's assertions that he does not need donor money and therefore is not beholden to any special interests, a point of appeal for some voters.

Voters like a candidate who self-funds because they are always concerned about "hidden money and corruption," said Elaine Kamarck, senior fellow in the governance studies program at the Brookings Institution and author of "Primary Politics." His method of raising money will determine whether increased fundraising pushes voters away from him, she said.

"If he can raise money like Bernie Sanders has raised money, with mostly small contributions, then this won't change his narrative. But if he relies on larger donors, I think that's going to create some problems for some of his supporters," she said.

In its statement Thursday, the Trump campaign did not specify how its fundraising operation would work. Trump said he will likely still give "substantial money toward the general election."

Mnuchin, for his part, has given about $71,000 to Democrats and associated committees and about $37,000 to Republicans since 1998, according to Reuters. He donated to Clinton's Senate bid in 2000.

Trump on Tuesday notched a decisive victory in the Indiana primary. His last two opponents, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, suspended their campaigns in the ensuing 24 hours.