The universe of political entities surrounding former President Donald Trump, the leading 2024 GOP candidate, is far stronger financially than some reports originally suggested, Breitbart News has learned from speaking with several senior Trump advisers and from federally-filed data.
“Grassroots donors have given President Trump a massive fundraising advantage, and his campaign team has fiercely protected these precious resources,” a senior Trump campaign aide told Breitbart News. “This ensures that the candidate of the people, President Trump, will continue to operate from a dominant position throughout the primary and general elections.”
There are two major formal entities that comprise the Trump team’s 2024 prospects: his actual campaign and the super PAC MAGA Inc. In addition, there is a leadership PAC that Trump controls called Save America.
The structure of the relationship between the Trump campaign and the leadership PAC is, per a senior Trump campaign official, as follows: All funds raised go through a joint fundraising agreement whereby 90 percent go to the campaign and 10 percent to the leadership PAC. The leadership PAC has been the primary entity that has been handling Trump’s legal fees, and the legal fees of others the former president’s team is helping cover. The cash that goes to the Trump campaign is used for actual campaign operations like travel, advertising, get-out-the-vote efforts, and more.
Trump allies recently established a new legal defense fund, too, called Patriot Legal Defense Fund Inc., which is unaffiliated with the campaign, through which eventually most of the legal bills of others – not Trump himself or his family members – will be covered. Save America, meanwhile, is expected to continue covering the legal bills of the former president and his family members and perhaps some others.
Separately, a super PAC called MAGA Inc. is backing Trump as well. MAGA Inc. technically does not have a formal relationship with the campaign because campaign finance law bars coordination between campaigns and super PACs, but since it received a hefty contribution from the Save America leadership PAC at its inception, it fits into the financial picture of things as well, especially since Save America requested a refund of part of that loan—and MAGA Inc. issued part of the refund request as the former president’s legal woes have mounted. It is certainly possible, maybe likely, that MAGA Inc. may refund more money to Save America down the road as needed as part of that refund request.
After recent Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing deadlines for both the leadership PAC and the super PAC at the end of July, some initial reports suggested that the Save America group was in dire financial trouble—and that MAGA Inc. was worse off than it looked. What’s more, others have suggested that Trump’s campaign was going through financial problems similar to those facing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—who actually is in real financial trouble.
But the truth is a much better picture for Trump than previously reported. Perhaps ironically, the Trump team is notorious for downplaying its own prospects and situation, thereby lowering expectations for performance—but frankly the broader view of the Trump political universe’s financial outlook is arguably the best for any 2024 candidate in either party. despite the legal woes facing the former president and his inner circle.
A senior Trump campaign official told Breitbart News on Tuesday that the former president’s campaign, as of then, had $26 million in cash on hand in dollars that can be used for the GOP presidential primary. Federal election law donation limits—$3,300 for the 2024 election cycle—mean that any single donor can give to a candidate up to that amount for the primary and again up to that amount for the general election. Any money beyond the original first $3,300 limit raised from an individual donor in the primary must be reserved and held for the general election—meaning it cannot be spent in the primary.
Trump’s campaign since launch has raised a total of $39 million, but only approximately $700,000 of that cash is reserved for the general election. Having a giant pile of $26 million cash that can be used for the primary—while Trump is currently leading all the polls—is an extremely good detail for the Trump campaign given the fact that represents about a 37 percent burn rate, which is much lower than the rest of the field. While that’s good for Trump, the picture gets even better for him when considering the universe of donors available to him to tap and tap again.
The Trump campaign has a house file of more than 21 million individuals comprised of those who are both historical and current donors—people who have given to Trump’s previous campaigns and this one—as well as people who have volunteered, attended rallies, or taken some other kind of action in support of Trump over the years. Of that 21 million house file of people, four million of them are donors and 17 million are non-donors.
In the 2024 presidential cycle, the official said Trump’s campaign has accepted donations from approximately 315,000 individual donors. That means millions of historical Trump donors still exist and have yet to give to this campaign this cycle.
The senior Trump campaign aide also said that in just the past week, the campaign accepted donations averaging about $33 per donation from approximately 137,000 donors, including approximately 22,000 donors who were new this cycle. Previously, a Trump campaign official told Breitbart News that the average donation to the Trump campaign was around $34—so these new donations track with that same average on that same trend line.
What this means is as follows: The people who have already given to Trump’s 2024 campaign, for the most part, have not even come close to maxing out in primary donations. That universe of several hundred thousand unique donors can be tapped again and again, several more times before they would give the $3,300 max—and most will probably never reach that. So the actual Trump campaign is in great shape—lots of cash on hand, a low burn rate of around 37 percent, and essentially unlimited potential in future donations from people who have already given to Trump in the 2024 campaign and even more potential in the many millions of other donors who have given to Trump in previous campaigns but not this one.
Contrast that with Trump’s one-time chief rival for the GOP nomination, Ron DeSantis. While DeSantis’s team first thumped their chests at what they portrayed as an eye-popping $20 million haul in the second quarter of 2023, that figure basically collapses when digging into the details. Much of that was already spent in the first weeks of the campaign, which reported about just $12 million on hand at the end of the second quarter—DeSantis’s first in the race. What’s more, an error in reporting to the FEC from DeSantis’s campaign—uncovered in a letter the FEC sent the campaign which was first reported this week—means the amount of that $12 million that can be spent on the primary is actually a lot lower than the approximately $9 million the DeSantis campaign originally reported to the FEC. The real number is around just over $6 million, which is a big part of why DeSantis laid off dozens of staffers and has just replaced his campaign manager.
“His campaign’s available cash for the primary entering July was significantly less than the $9.2 million his financial report initially showed, and closer to $6.6 million.”@NickNehamas me and @maggieNYT https://t.co/HJ0OEBSFdr
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) August 8, 2023
In other words, unlike the DeSantis campaign, the Trump campaign seems, based on these details, built to last—and built to keep growing and expanding. How this picture fits together with Trump’s legal situation, too, is interesting—and the picture is far brighter for Trump than previously reported.
The original story that kicked off much of the speculation that Trump might be in trouble—which came from the Washington Post—misreported by nearly $20 million the amount of funds that Trump’s leadership PAC Save America spent on legal fees this year. That story, published originally on July 29, said in its earlier iteration in the headline: “Trump PAC has spent more than $40 million on legal costs this year for himself, others.” The story repeated the same inaccurate characterization of the then-forthcoming FEC files.
The truth is, while Save America and other Trump entities have spent more than $40 million on legal fees for Trump and his associates, the timeframe in which these entities did so is far longer than just this year. The actual timeframe for that astounding sum of legal fees dates back to early 2021, back to Trump’s immediate post-presidency. In the first half of 2023, the actual number is slightly higher than $20 million spent by Save America on legal fees. For what it’s worth, the inaccuracies do not appear to be the fault of the Washington Post, but they led to the furthering of a narrative that Trump was close to financially tapped out—one that simply was not accurate.
The Washington Post has since, to its credit, as of Wednesday morning, corrected its story after an inquiry from Breitbart News. The correction appears at the top of the story and says: “Earlier versions of this story reported that Donald Trump’s Save America PAC was expected to disclose $40.2 million in legal spending in the first half of 2023, but the group’s filing later reported about $20 million in legal spending. This story has been updated to address the discrepancy.”
The corrected article also notes that the discrepancy appears to have been a miscommunication from a Trump official at the outset of the story. “Before the PAC’s report was submitted, Trump campaign advisers told The Washington Post in a July 29 email that the group would disclose $40.2 million on legal fees in that FEC report, which covers the first six months of 2023,” the updated story reads. “Asked on Aug. 8 to explain the discrepancy between this figure and the total reported to the FEC, a senior Trump campaign adviser said the $40.2 million amount actually represented a longer period that stretched back to 2021, the year Trump left the presidency. FEC reports show that Save America and five other Trump-related committees have collectively spent nearly $40.2 million on legal fees since Jan. 1, 2021. Save America has spent about $38 million of that, the reports show.”
Some of DeSantis’s allies point to the reported abundance of cash that the super PAC backing him—called Never Back Down—supposedly has, but there are problems emerging there too, particularly with the fact that mega-donor Robert Bigelow said he will donate no more to the effort. Bigelow had given $20 million to Never Back Down, and losing future support from him is a huge blow to the pro-DeSantis effort. FEC reports also show Never Back Down already burned through tens of millions of dollars—$34 million specifically—as DeSantis has tumbled in polling.
Conversely, the pro-Trump super PAC seems on the upswing. As Breitbart News previously reported, MAGA Inc. reported $30 million in cash on hand to the FEC at the end of the filing period last month. That came after a haul of $17 million in the first half of the year, and PAC officials told Breitbart News that MAGA Inc. raised an additional $15 million in July alone—money that does not appear on the half-year report filed with the FEC in late July. What’s more, the group, as Breitbart News previously reported, spent more than $20 million on television advertisements, most of which excoriated DeSantis—a blitz that coincided with the beginning of DeSantis’s accelerating collapse.
The FEC report from MAGA Inc. showed a slightly north of $12 million refund back to Save America—Save America had requested $60 million back—and it is possible that more could be refunded in the coming weeks and months. Save America showed just over $3 million left in cash on hand after the first half of 2023 on its FEC report. Some of the legal funding burden moving away from Save America to the new legal defense fund could alleviate some pressure on Save America moving forward too, especially as Trump’s various legal cases accelerate after three indictments so far and a fourth possible looming in Fulton County, Georgia.
But the gist of things with the broader picture of Trump’s operations is, to summarize, as follows: First off, the campaign has what it needs to operate through the primaries and caucuses next year, as it is flush with cash and has near-unlimited potential for more growth in that regard. The pro-Trump super PAC appears on the upswing as well, and could even refund more back to the former president’s leadership PAC—but either way, with the new legal defense fund Trump’s allies have established, the legal fronts are covered too.