Donald Trump’s joint fundraising committee reported raising $53.8 million in the first half of the year, a long-teased figure that blows all of his Republican opponents out of the water.
But the committee and its two affiliates — the former president’s official campaign and his leadership Save America PAC — have collectively spent $57 million over the same period, according to a POLITICO analysis of campaign finance filings. The spending rate threatens to put a significant strain on Trump’s finances as the election gears up.
All told, the joint fundraising committee spent more than $17 million over the first six months of 2023 on fundraising expenses such as digital consulting, direct mail, email and list rentals.
The Save America leadership PAC, which also filed its own biannual report on Monday, reported spending more than $24.4 million in the first six months of the year, excluding transfers to related committees.
By far the biggest expense from Save America was legal consulting, which accounted for more than $21 million.
The leadership PAC reported paying nearly 50 distinct entities for legal work or legal consulting, with nine different firms paid at least seven figures. The group also reimbursed Red Curve Solutions — the firm of Bradley T. Crate, his longtime campaign treasurer — roughly $1.5 million for legal fees and expenses, which suggests that investigators have focused on Trump’s campaign books.
Even a super PAC supporting Trump spent beyond its means. MAGA Inc. reported raising $14.6 million over the first six months of 2023. But it spent $25.6 million in addition to issuing a $12 million refund to Save America.
The state of Trump’s finances was obscured, in part, by the way his committees move money around among each other. Roughly 60 percent of the money the joint fundraising committee raised, for example, was transferred to its affiliates: $29.3 million to Trump’s campaign and $2.2 million to Save America. The Save America leadership PAC, additionally, benefited from that $12 million refund from MAGA Inc.
There were plenty of silver linings for Trump. Of the hefty sum raised by Trump’s joint fundraising committee between Jan. 1 and June 30, $23.7 came from donors giving less than $200, a far greater total than any of the former president’s opponents, Republican or Democrat. His three main committees, meanwhile, still have significant cash (just south of $32 million) on hand owing to prodigious fundraising conducted before the calendar year,
The former president has long been a strong fundraiser among small-dollar donors, but many candidates and committees across the political spectrum have seen a drop in small-dollar donations so far this year.
Trump’s campaign had hinted at strong fundraising driven in part by small-dollar backlash to his legal woes. He heavily fundraised off his late March indictment on business charges related to a payout to a former adult film star, and again in June when he was indicted on charges related to retention of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago property.
High fundraising expenses have been a problem for Trump before. In the first six weeks after his campaign launch last November, his joint fundraising committee spent more on list rentals, text messaging and digital advertising than it took in from donors.
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