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Trump Campaign Spent More Than It Raised, While PAC Helped on Legal Fees

Trump Campaign Spent More Than It Raised, While PAC Helped on Legal Fees
Former US President Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s campaign spent more than it raised in January, putting more pressure on outside groups who are already footing the bill for his mounting legal woes.

Trump’s campaign took in $8.8 million, but doled out $11.4 million last month, according to filings late Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission. The campaign began February with $30.4 million in cash on hand. Its biggest expense was the $4.7 million it paid for advertising time in January, which covered expenses in Iowa and New Hampshire primary contests.

Outside groups typically pick up the spending slack for a candidate’s campaign, supplementing advertising or door-knocking efforts, for example. But in Trump’s case, those so-called political action committees or allied groups, are also taking on the burden of his legal fees. In January, alone, a Trump-aligned PAC spent $2.9 million on legal fees.

The legal costs, which are expected to grow as Trump faces four criminal indictments, are likely to be a drag on his reelection effort’s finances. Money that can be used for legal fees is set to run out mid-year if he keeps spending at the same pace he did in 2023, meaning he will need to raise more from donors or appeal to the Republican National Committee for help.

That could come just as Trump and his allies are looking to ramp up spending in a potential general election matchup against President Joe Biden, who has a well-funded campaign.

Nikki Haley, his sole remaining rival, has criticized the amount of money from political donors spent on his defense and the amount of time this year he will have to spend in the courtroom. Save America, the political action committee funding Trump’s legal bills, spent more than $51 million last year on his lawyer costs.

Read More: Haley Pitches Herself as Alternative to Criminal Defendant Trump

Trump possibly raised more than his campaign filings show. Almost all of his donations come through Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, which benefits his campaign and his leadership political action committee, and isn’t due to report on its finances until April 15.

The former president has been making progress in replenishing his campaign coffers this month. He raised $6.8 million at a fundraiser Tuesday in Greenville, South Carolina, according to a person familiar with the event. An invitation listed Governor Henry McMaster, US Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, and hedge fund Key Square Group LP founder Scott Bessent among the hosts.

Trump’s allied super-PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., raised $7.4 million in January, according to filings. Its big donors included investor Timothy Mellon, who gave $5 million, real estate developer Geoffrey Palmer, who donated $1 million, and Cantor Fitzgerald’s Howard Lutnick, who contributed $750,000.

MAGA Inc. spent $10.9 million over the month and started February with $19.7 million in the bank. Its biggest single outlay was the $5 million it refunded to Trump’s leadership PAC Save America, the vehicle he uses to pay his legal fees. The leadership PAC ended the month with $6.3 million in cash on hand.

Read More: Congress Boosts Trump’s 2024 Bid As Haley Taps Silicon Valley

Trump’s reelection effort will also benefit from a fundraiser scheduled for March 6 with nearly 120 members of Congress listed as co-hosts, including Speaker Mike Johnson and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, demonstrating the deep support from Capitol Hill and the sway the GOP frontrunner holds over his party’s lawmakers.

Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley raised $16.5 million in January with $11.6 million of that going to her campaign and the remainder to a separate political action committee, according to a filing. It began February with $13 million on hand.

That money will continue to fund her long-shot campaign. On Tuesday, Haley, an ex-UN Ambassador pledged to stay in the race after her home state, South Carolina, votes on Saturday. Polls in the state show her trailing Trump by a wide margin despite previously serving as its governor.

A super-PAC allied to Nikki Haley, SFA Fund, raised $12 million in January, but may be facing a cash crunch. It spent $13.7 million and ended January with $1.9 million cash on hand. It received $750,000 donations from investment banker Warren Stephens and venture capitalist Tim Draper. Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper and his wife Nicole Tepper each gave $250,000.

SFA Fund has bought more than $62 million of advertising, but just $5 million since the start of February, according to AdImpact, with $4.8 million spent in her home state of South Carolina.


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