Trump fundraising picks up, with help from big donors

Former President Donald Trump’s money machine ramped up in the first quarter of 2024, with the Republican National Committee raking in millions from a new joint fundraising arrangement.

Trump’s own joint fundraising committee separately reported raising $65 million, a total nearly double its 2023 pace that will nonetheless still leave him well behind President Joe Biden in the money race.

Together, the filings submitted to the Federal Election Commission late Monday reflect how large Republican donors have consolidated around Trump and the RNC after he secured the party’s nomination earlier this year. Trump advisers concede they will have less money than Biden, who has established a formidable fundraising apparatus. But they insist they will have enough to compete.

Over the first three months of the year, Trump’s Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, which has been the primary fundraising vehicle for his presidential bid, reported transferring $33.8 million to his campaign, including $14.7 million in March that had not been previously reported. Trump’s campaign will file its own report later this week for March, but the joint committee usually accounts for nearly all of its cash flow.

The joint fundraising committee also burned through $21 million on fundraising expenses over three months, which reduced what it had left to send to Trump’s campaign. Expenses included $7.2 million in fundraising fees paid to the Virginia-based firm Active Engagement, as well as $3.2 million spent on direct mail and $2 million on merchant fees.

The joint committee also raises money for Trump’s Save America leadership PAC, although it did not report any transfers to that group in the first quarter.

But the former president’s initial team-up with the Republican National Committee raked in big bucks, with a new joint fundraising committee, Trump 47 Committee, raising $23 million.

The committee’s fundraising was driven by large donors, many of whom are familiar Republican donors but had not given to the RNC yet this cycle. Eighteen donors gave at least $800,000 to the joint committee, accounting for 62 percent of its fundraising. Among those who maxed out were Robert Bigelow, the Nevada real estate magnate who formerly backed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and former Trump administration official Linda McMahon. The list also includes hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who was a prominent supporter of Trump’s 2016 campaign. The former president has been working of late to cultivate the backing of Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah.

Only $6,600 that any donor gives to the joint fundraising committee can go to Trump’s campaign. So the big checks also meant big funds headed to the RNC, which can accept far more from large donors. Trump 47 Committee reported transferring $10.3 million to the RNC in the last few days of March, a major boost from the group that had raised just $10.6 million from all sources the month prior.

Under its joint fundraising formula, Trump 47 Committee is also set to send money to Trump’s leadership PAC, Save America, and a range of state Republican parties, though it reported no such transfers in March.

The new reports include all activity through March 31. But many Trump-aligned groups, including the former president’s official campaign, are on a different filing schedule and aren’t required to disclose their activity for the month of March until Saturday.

Trump has been intensifying his courtship of major donors and has been regularly dialing up givers who have remained on the sidelines. Earlier this month, he held a fundraiser at the home of billionaire investor John Paulson that his campaign said raised more than $50 million. Last week, he traveled to Atlanta to hold another fundraising event.

Trump’s campaign last month executed a hostile takeover of the RNC, which had trailed its Democratic counterpart in fundraising. As part of the restructuring, the Trump team is moving the RNC fundraising apparatus from Washington to West Palm Beach, Florida, where the campaign is based.

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