ECONOMY

Donald Trump raises a $100m war chest

US midterm elections updates

Donald Trump entered July with a war chest of more than $100m from his 2021 political committees, raising more than other Republicans in online donations during the first half of this year, new federal campaign finance filings show.

Trump’s enormous cash flow — unprecedented for a former president — has renewed speculation that he is considering a 2024 campaign. But not all of the money can be used towards re-election efforts.

The sum is testament to his enduring popularity among Republicans, even after he lost the 2020 election and was stripped of his preferred communication platform when Twitter banned his account in January.

The majority of the cash on hand — $90m — came from the Save America political action committee (Pac). The rest has accumulated across several other fundraising vehicles, some left over from his 2020 presidential campaign, others newly launched, making it difficult to keep track of the money Trump has raised and what he is able to use it for.

The fundraising confirms that Trump could be highly influential in the forthcoming 2022 midterm Congressional elections. Though he has used Save America Pac to endorse Republican candidates in those elections, he has not yet donated money to their campaign accounts. He has also spent little on state ballot reviews, despite using the false claim that the election was “stolen” from him to solicit donations.

He has spent more than $13m from his Make America Great Again Pac account, the bulk of it on legal and consulting fees related to 2020 election recount efforts.

Trump-affiliated groups have raised a total of more than $56m on the online Republican fundraising platform WinRed, leapfrogging the Republican National Committee ($19m) and the Republican Senate and House party committees combined ($23m raised by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and $26m raised by the National Republican Congressional Committee).

The Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which at $35m raised more than every other committee via WinRed, is a joint fundraising account that splits its proceeds between Trump’s other committees (75 per cent) and the Republican National Committee (25 per cent), a direct indicator of how the party still relies on his name to harness cash, particularly from small-dollar online donors.

The two Trump-affiliated beneficiaries of the Trump Make America Great Again Committee are the Save America Pac, which Trump set up in the aftermath of the 2020 election, and the Make America Great Again Pac, which used to be Trump’s principal campaign committee during the election. Trump has another joint venture, the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, which only raises money for the other two Trump groups.

Trump Victory, a joint venture between Trump and several Republican party committees during his campaign, no longer receives contributions but has about $2m cash left over to dole out.

Trump has endorsed Make America Great Again Action Inc, which has raised more than $5m since it launched in March. Run by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, the group is a super Pac, meaning that unlike the Trump-affiliated Pacs, it can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. However, it cannot directly co-ordinate with candidates.

Former Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler, who was defeated by Raphael Warnock in the January special election, wrote a cheque for $250,000 to the group in May, about the same time as MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell’s $100,000 contribution.

Out of the more than $62m he has raised through Save America Pac, Trump has spent just $3.2m as of June 30, including a $1m donation to America First Policy Institute, a non-profit dedicated to promoting Trump’s policies that has supported his legal battles against Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube, plus more than $68,000 at Trump hotels.

As a “leadership Pac”, Save America Pac funds cannot be directly used on his own campaign. Otherwise, there are few meaningful restrictions on how it can spend its money. Campaign finance reform groups such as Issue One have warned that Save America, like many congressional leadership Pacs, could be “a textbook example of a political slush fund”.

But even outside of Save America, Trump is sitting on tens of millions of dollars in cash across his various committees. It will not be until January 2022, the next federal election commission filing date for these committees, that a clearer picture emerges of what Trump is planning to do with it.

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