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Trump's invitation to donors prioritizes his legal bills over RNC

An agreement makes it more likely that Republican donors could see their money go to Trump's lawyers instead of the Republican National Committee.
Trump's invitation to donors prioritizes his legal bills over RNC
Posted at 6:14 AM, Mar 22, 2024

Donald Trump’s new joint fundraising agreement with the Republican National Committee directs donations to his campaign and a political action committee that pays the former president’s legal bills before the RNC gets a cut, according to a fundraising invitation obtained by The Associated Press.

The unorthodox diversion of funds to the Save America PAC makes it more likely that Republican donors could see their money go to Trump’s lawyers, who have received at least $76 million over the last two years to defend him against four felony indictments and multiple civil cases. Some Republicans are already troubled that Trump’s takeover of the RNC could shortchange the cash-strapped party.

SEE MORE: Trump's lawyers say he is unable to post $454 million to cover bond

Trump has invited high-dollar donors to Palm Beach, Florida, for an April 6 fundraiser that comes as his fundraising is well behind President Joe Biden and national Democrats. The invitation’s fine print says donations to the Trump 47 Committee will first be used to give the maximum amount allowed under federal law to Trump’s campaign. 

Anything left over from the donation next goes toward a maximum contribution to Save America, and then anything left from there goes to the RNC and then to state political parties.

Adav Noti, the executive director of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington, said that is a break from fundraising norms. Usually, Noti said, candidates prioritize raising cash that can be spent directly on campaign activity. 

Save America, on the other hand, is structured as a “leadership PAC” and thus barred from spending directly on Trump’s own campaign activities. Legal spending made up 85% of Save America’s total operating expenses during the first two months of this year, roughly the same as 2023, when such expenses were about 89%. It has spent $8.5 million on legal fees so far this year.

“The reason most candidates don’t do this is because the hardest money to raise is money that can be spent directly on the campaign,” said Noti, a former staff attorney for the Federal Election Commission. “No other candidate has used a leadership PAC the way the Trump campaign has.”

SEE MORE: New York AG threatens to seize Trump properties if fines aren't paid

The Trump campaign noted that Save America spends on expenses other than legal fees and that donors to the April fundraiser who contribute the suggested $814,600 per person or $250,000 per person will only have $5,000 of their donation go to Save America, sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to the RNC.

“Save America also covers a very active and robust post-Presidency office and other various expenses not related to fighting the illegal witch-hunts perpetrated by Crooked Joe Biden. The Trump campaign, the RNC, and state GOP parties ultimately receive the overwhelming majority of funds raised through the Trump 47 Committee. Out of an Individual donor’s maximum contribution of $824,600, less than 1% (.006%) goes to Save America,” Steven Cheung, the Trump campaign communications director, said in a statement.

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