Fundraising for one of Donald Trump’s biggest political action committees slowed dramatically in recent months, according to new election filings, in an early sign that the former president’s escalating legal troubles may be damaging his prospects with donors.
The Make America Great Again, Again! super Pac, which is the only active super Pac affiliated with Trump, raised just $40 in August, having raised $351,000 in July and zero in June. In April and May, the group had raised more than double that amount, with $864,000 in total contributions.
That total second-quarter fundraising represented a marked fall from the $4mn to $5mn raised in the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year.
The sharp drop-off in fundraising came as the Save America political action committee, which holds the vast majority of the donations, spent $3.8mn on legal fees — the most the Pac has spent on such costs in a single month during the entire 2022 campaign cycle.
Of those fees, $3mn went to the Critton, Luttier & Coleman law firm based in West Palm Beach, Florida.
On Wednesday, New York attorney-general Letitia James filed a civil lawsuit against Trump and his three adult children for “engaging in years of financial fraud”. At the same time, the former president’s legal team continues to deal with the fallout from the FBI’s raid of his Mar-a-Lago estate and the question of whether he improperly took classified documents from the White House.
As well as MAGAA, Trump has a separate fundraising entity called MAGA Action, though it largely stopped raising money this year.
While Trump has still been one of the most prolific fundraisers of the Republican party overall this cycle, spending by his Pacs on supporting fellow GOP candidates in upcoming midterm contests has been minimal, despite the fact that many of the party’s nominees won their primaries thanks to his endorsement.
Instead, Republican candidates have been relying largely on the main party committees, with mixed results, just as the US moves into the final stretch before the November midterms.
Last month, the two main committees for Republicans and Democrats in the House — the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — were neck-and-neck in fundraising, with the NRCC raising $11.7mn and the DCCC raising $13.6mn.
However, the DCCC massively outspent the NRCC during that period — spending $23.6mn on House races. The NRCC spent just $12.5mn.
On the Senate side, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee had a slight spending and fundraising edge over the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has faced criticism for spending too aggressively earlier in the 2022 campaign cycle.
This has left the group with significantly diminished funding reserves compared to other Republican Pacs, which have been forced to spend more this cycle as a result.
The Republican National Committee, for instance, spent nearly double what the Democratic National Committee spent in August, ploughing through $26.6mn versus $14.5mn for the DNC. Fundraising for the two groups was about even.
The Mitch McConnell-linked Senate Leadership Fund, a super Pac, has also spent $65mn on ads targeting key Senate races since August 19. In September 20 filings alone, the group spent $2mn to $3.5mn each on ads opposing Democratic senate candidates in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Nevada.