DDonald Trump’s fierce fundraising machine, fueled equally by grassroots donations and large donations from individuals and corporations, has never really stopped turning – and it is now raising huge sums of money.
Since this month, Trump has saved $123 million in his Save America political fund, more than the Republican and Democratic National Committees combined, and 12 times more than the fund – Pac for the Future – for the Democratic House Speaker. , Nancy Pelosi.
And all of this has come up as Trump’s own ambitions remain unclear. Although his grip on the Republican Party remains tight — and he has waged an approval war against his opponents — the big question of whether Trump will run for the White House remains unanswered.
Without a declared candidacy, the vocation of his war chest, and therefore also that of his master, is unclear – and deliberately so.
Trump can’t easily spend the money on himself if he decides to run in 2024. Save America is registered as a leadership pac, or political action committee, not a campaign tool for himself. Yet Trump isn’t spending much yet, under his “leadership” goal of backing Republican candidates in this year’s hotly contested midterm elections.
Despite Trump’s more than 120 Republican backers, and even as Democrats pour money into the effort to retain control of Congress, the massive accumulation of cash under his control begs the question: what’s the point? -he ?
Trump hasn’t stopped fundraising since leaving office, either through thousands of small donations collected at Trump rallies or online, or through the big slot that Democrats can’t match. – being schmoozed by Trump himself on the golf course and in the dining room at Mar-a-Lago.
Since Trump founded Save America in November 2020, the group has raised $124 million — the biggest war chest ever built by an ex-president — but has only spent about $14 million, or about 11%.
By contrast, the main fund to support Republican Senate candidates has spent about 80% of the $135 million it has raised since the start of 2021, while its main fund for congressional candidates has spent half of the $162 million. million dollars he raised during the same period.
The issue of Trump’s pac money is beginning to vex strategists on both sides of the political divide. It could be a fund designed to secure the loyalty of Republican allies forming a new power base within the party, or it may have other purposes, namely securing its own path by securing the political future of loyalists.
“It’s consistent with Trump’s political priorities — Trump first — and positions him well for a presidential race in 2024,” said Democratic consultant Carly Cooperman.
“It’s possible he decides to make a splash in competitive racing as the midterm elections approach, but more importantly, Trump’s immense popularity and ability to raise large sums of money makes him even more powerful in the Republican Party,” Cooperman added. .
According to FEC financial information, Save America spent more than $3 million on events through February, $2 million on consulting services, including for law firms representing witnesses wanted by the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, including Trump aide Dan Scavino and Trump spokesman Taylor. Budowich.
He also spent $300,000 on ads, $200,000 in contributions to Republican congressional candidates, and at least $170,000 at Trump-owned hotels for lodging, meals and renting hotel facilities.
Budowich, communications director for Save America and Trump, told Reuters the former president supports candidates through direct contributions, rallies and joint fundraising – in other words, efforts that bind candidates for former president.
“Save America will not release specific tactics or expenses in the press,” Budowich told the news agency. “Every dollar raised will be used to advance President Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda through his endorsed candidates and causes.”
“There’s a lot of wiggle room in how funds are spent,” says Michael Beckel of Issue One, a nonpartisan group that advocates for campaign finance reform. “As long as he remains an unofficial candidate, he can build his brand, draw more attention to himself by holding large rallies, ostensibly to support other candidates in other states, but each rally has the advantage of helping to strengthen its visibility and its brand.”
Trump is certainly on the move, holding rallies across the United States with the usual goal of supporting supportive local politicians. In some ways it’s a substitute for the social media blackout, in another it’s Trump connecting to his base in the way that has served him in the past.
Earlier this month, he held a rally in South Carolina in support of Russell Fry, a state representative he endorsed to challenge incumbent Republican Congressman Tom Rice.
Fry spoke briefly, before returning the podium to Trump who continued for 20 minutes. “In 2024, we will take over this beautiful White House. I wonder who is going to do this. I wonder, I wonder,” Trump teased.
But the consequences of deviating from Trump’s agenda are also obvious. Last week, the former president withdrew his support for Mo Brooks for “waking up” after the Alabama Senate candidate expressed doubts that the 2020 presidential election was a fraud.
“Mo Brooks of Alabama recently made a horrible mistake when he ‘woke up’ and said, referring to the 2020 presidential election scam, ‘Put that behind you, put that behind you. “,” Trump said as he withdrew his endorsement.
But Trump’s enduring influence efforts aren’t limited to rallies or building his power base. Last Tuesday, Axios reported that Donald Trump Jr was planning to launch a mobile news app after the bumpy launch of Truth Social, a Trump-aligned social media network “that encourages open, free and honest global conversation without discrimination against the ‘political ideology’. .
The aggregator site has big ambitions to compete with news aggregators from Apple and Google, and to supplant the Drudge Report which has lost traffic and influence since founder Matt Drudge undermined the message from the White House. on Covid deaths at the height of the pandemic.
A spokesperson said the news site, MxM (short for “Minute by Minute”), will carry the label “mainstream news without mainstream bias” and carry news “from a variety of publishers across the ideological spectrum.
With about 12 employees, an ideologically copacetic news site could also be useful. But it’s still Trump’s money that’s the focus when it comes to his future ambitions.
Under election finance laws, if Trump decided to run in 2024, he would have to create a new campaign fund. His previous committee pac, Donald J Trump for President (since renamed The Make America Great Again Pac) still has over $6 million, having raised $13 million in 2021.
“The life of a political action committee after a candidate leaves can turn into supporting other candidates,” Beckel explained. “Most of the money Trump has raised goes to Save America, but he also has a middle ground for a donor to write a check to and it’s split between the buckets based on political contribution limits. .”
But how Trump will spend the money remains an open question, says Beckel. “He could significantly shape the 2022 midterm elections or other future elections if he decides to call it. One can predict how other former presidents or politicians have spent their money, but Donald Trump is not a conventional politician.