Former President Trump's new political action committee brought in more than $30 million during the final weeks of 2020, giving him a large war chest to continue to wield his political influence, even though he is no longer in office.
Save America, a leadership PAC created after the general election, entered 2021 with more than $31 million cash on hand, according to an Federal Election Commission filing. The bulk of that money, $30.4 million, was transferred from the Trump Make America Great Again committee.
The cash in Save America is just a fraction of what Mr. Trump and Republicans hold in various political committee accounts. His presidential campaign committee still has $10.7 million in the bank. Mr. Trump's joint fundraising committees with the Republican National Committee, Trump Make America Great Again Committee and Trump Victory, have about $63 million cash on hand — although the former president isn't entitled to all of that money.
The four committees raised more than $62 million from individual contributions between November 24 and December 31, according to FEC documents filed on Sunday. During that time, Mr. Trump frequently solicited funds while casting doubt on the results of the 2020 election. "President Trump needs YOU to step up to make sure we have the resources to protect the integrity of the Election," the website implored in December.
While fundraising efforts were largely centered around claims of voter fraud or election integrity, a closer look at the fine print showed that starting a few weeks after Election Day, 75% of all donations under $5,000 were sent to Save America, while 25% of those went into the Republican National Committee's account, according to the campaign's disclaimer. Donations above $5,000 went to the RNC's Legal Proceedings or Headquarters account up to a certain amount.
The RNC brought in more than $18.8 million in individual contributions during the final stretch of 2020 and received more than $22 million from the Trump Make America Great Again Committee. The RNC ended the year with more than $80 million in the bank.
Mr. Trump can contribute up to $5,000 from his leadership PAC to any candidate he chooses to support. He may also use the money from Save America to pay for rallies, travel, political advertisements and other expenses.
Save America commissioned and sent out polling last week that showed a sizable majority of Wyoming Republicans had an unfavorable view of Congresswoman Liz Cheney following her vote to impeach Mr. Trump. The PAC also provided a statement about Mr. Trump's meeting last Thursday with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in Florida, boasting about his popularity and vowing to help Republicans retake the House"[H]is endorsement means more than perhaps any endorsement at any time," the statement proclaimed.
In the first 19 days after Election Day, Mr. Trump's campaign, the RNC, the joint fundraising committees and Save America raised $207.5 million, according to Mr. Trump's campaign. Those same committees brought in more than $80 million in individual contributions between November 24 and December 31, 2020.
A CBS News analysis of FEC expenditure reports found that Mr. Trump's campaign appears to have spent a fraction of what it raised post-election, around $6.8 million, on legal expenses litigating the outcome of the election —all labeled "legal consulting" or "recount: legal consulting" after November 3. FEC reports also show the RNC spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on "legal and compliance services" after Election Day, although it's not immediately clear how much of that was spent on litigation involving the presidential election.
Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee is coming off of the 2020 presidential election in much better shape than four years ago. The DNC had nearly $39 million cash on hand to start 2021 and $3 million in debts. Four years ago Democrats had $10.5 million in the bank,$4 million in debt and struggled with weak fundraising for years — until Joe Biden was closing in on the Democratic nomination. There is about $40 million earmarked for the party from its joint fundraising operation with the Biden campaign, according to The New York Times. That joint fundraising committee had $44.7M cash on hand at the end of 2020.