One Trump committee nearly broke, and other key takeaways from campaign filings

Donald Trump’s joint fundraising committee raised $53.9 million during the first half of this year for his presidential campaign — an enviable haul that speaks to the enthusiasm of his donors and dwarfs the sums raised by his GOP rivals.

But Trump’s political committees are burning through cash as he grapples with his mounting legal bills, according to campaign disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday night. Here are a few takeaways from the new disclosures filed with the FEC:

Trump remains in a commanding position, with a New York Times/Siena College poll released Monday showing the former president leading the field with the backing of 54 percent of likely Republican voters. But reports filed on Monday show that some of his committees are spending about as much money as they are taking in. Although his joint fundraising committee raised $53.9 million over the first six months of the year, it spent more than $52 million in the same period, the reports show. The joint fundraising committee has transferred money to Trump’s Save America leadership PAC and to the campaign, which had $22.5 million in cash on hand at the end of the filing period.

Trump’s Save America PAC had more than $100 million at the beginning of last year. It now has only about $3.6 million in cash on hand after it became the vehicle used to pay millions of dollars in legal bills for the former president, his aides and his associates. As Trump fights federal and state investigations, his advisers have told The Washington Post that the PAC has been handling the legal bills for almost anyone drawn into the investigations if they ask Trump and his advisers for help.

Trump’s legal entanglements are putting a considerable strain on his war chest, which has been bolstered by scores of small-dollar donors across the country — many of whom share his view that he is being persecuted by his political opponents. A portion of the money raised by the Trump campaign’s joint fundraising committee goes to the Save America leadership PAC. Earlier this year, Trump’s advisers upped the percentage of each contribution that is directed to the leadership PAC, giving them a greater ability to pay bills.

The reports filed Monday night show Trump officials moving money among the different fundraising entities in his orbit to ease that financial strain. The Save America leadership PAC recently asked for a refund on a large contribution the group had previously made to another PAC supporting Trump. That development was first reported by the New York Times.

Monday night’s filings show that Trump’s super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., reported that it had raised more than $13 million over the first six months of this year and had about $30 million in cash on hand at the end of the reporting period. But the group issued a $12.2 million refund to the Save America leadership PAC, a transfer that was reflected on the midyear report.

Brendan Glavin, a senior data analyst with OpenSecrets — which analyzes campaign finance data — noted that it is difficult to ascertain the financial strength of Trump’s super PAC right now, because it remains an open question as to how much money MAGA Inc. plans to transfer back to Save America to help pay legal and other bills.

“When it comes down to cash on hand in the actual campaign committees, as of June 30, Trump had more than the other candidates,” Glavin said, noting that cash on hand in Trump’s campaign account was higher than that of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and President Biden. “But when you look at the groups giving outside support for the Republican primary, DeSantis clearly has an edge right now with his super PAC, which has much more money available to spend versus Trump’s super PAC, which is dealing with having to support Save America and the spending on legal issues.”

Still, Trump has a large universe of small-dollar donors to which he can return to ask for more money. Filings with the FEC through the end of June show that many of the donors who contributed to DeSantis, by contrast, already have donated the maximum allowed.

The super PACs supporting the 2024 GOP presidential candidates were required to file their midyear reports to the FEC by midnight Monday — offering a more in-depth look at the top financial backers of the White House hopefuls and a few hints about which groups may be sufficiently well funded to help their candidates go the distance in the battle for the nomination.

The super PAC supporting DeSantis, Never Back Down, boasted nearly $97 million in cash on hand at the end of June to support its expansive field and advertising program as DeSantis tries to reboot his struggling campaign. The outside group has taken on many of the duties that normally would be shouldered by the campaign. Much of the $130 million that the group raised from the beginning of the year came from an $82.5 million transfer from the governor’s former Florida political operation that allowed it to build a team of more than 121 people and a contract workforce of about 240 canvassers who work out of 11 offices across the country.

Trust in the Mission PAC, the super PAC supporting Scott, reported raising $19.3 million, with about $15 million in cash on hand (Scott’s official campaign had more than $21 million on hand).

SFA Fund Inc., which is boosting the campaign of Nikki Haley, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, had more than $17 million in cash on hand at the end of the filing period.

The sums raised by the super PACs supporting lower-polling candidates including former vice president Mike Pence and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie were far lower, reflecting the difficulty they may face in the months ahead. The group backing Pence, Committed to America PAC, raised about $2.7 million and had about $1.8 million in cash on hand at the end of the period. The Tell It Like It Is super PAC supporting Christie raised more than $5.8 million and had about $5.5 million in cash on hand.

Pence’s campaign had about $1.1 million in cash on hand at the end of the reporting period, but he entered the race late, and the campaign says that it is investing heavily in direct mail and that it will take more time to see the results of that investment. The Early 202 has a great rundown of the cash on hand for all of the other candidates.

Although Trump’s growing legal jeopardy has contributed to a strain on cash for the Save America PAC, which has been handling many of his legal bills, that committee still found the funds to pay Melania Trump’s former stylist. The committee reported payments of $108,000 to designer Hervé Pierre Braillard for “strategy consulting” during the first six months of this year.

Dylan Freedman contributed this report.

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