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Trump’s legal bills divert millions from his political committees

Donald Trump is picking up the pace of his fundraising as he fights criminal charges in four cases and appeals a nearly half-billion-dollar civil fraud verdict in New York. But his legal fees remain a huge burden on his campaign and allied groups, the latest campaign finance data show, representing 26 percent of March spending by his political committees.

New Federal Election Commission documents released Saturday show that Save America leadership PAC, a Trump-affiliated group he has used to pay off some of his lawyers, raised $5 million in March and 4 Raised $.6 million in legal bills for Trump and some of his associates. . During this election cycle, Save America has spent the most on legal bills among groups in Trump’s inner circle.

Trump’s political committees have spent at least $16.7 million on legal bills so far this year, and owe another $900,000 to various companies as of late March, bringing his total legal costs since the start of his campaign to about $86 million dollars come.

These charges continue to siphon money away from the main super PAC supporting Trump, MAGA Inc., which last year agreed to return $60 million to Save America. They transferred $52.25 million in “contribution refunds” to the leadership PAC in 12 installments beginning last May. MAGA Inc. made another $5 million transfer to PAC leadership in March, accounting for nearly all of the money flowing into Save America, new reports show.

FEC reports do not require candidates or their leadership PACs to disclose what legal matters each lawyer or law firm handled when reporting payments to those firms.

Still, there are signs that Trump’s efforts to portray his legal troubles as unjust attacks are convincing grassroots donors to keep giving to his campaign. The FEC records show that at a key point in the civil fraud case, for example – March 22, when he was asked to post several hundred million dollars in bail to prevent New York authorities from seizing his assets – donations to his campaign pointedly. A New York appeals court panel later said former President Donald Trump would be allowed to post a reduced bail amount of $175 million.

On March 22, Trump wrote an all-caps post on his Truth Social platform claiming he had nearly $500 million in cash, “a substantial amount of money that I planned to use in my campaign for the presidency.” He claimed in the post that the judge in the case tried to take that money from him. (Trump’s lawyers had said in a March 18 court filing that he was unable to fund a more than $450 million appellate bond to cover the judgment in the business fraud case.)

It was his best fundraising day since his mugshot was taken in August in Fulton County, Georgia. In the last half of March, after securing the Republican nomination, Trump earned an average of more than $1.2 million per day through the online fundraising platform WinRed.

Campaign finance records filed this week show Trump and the Republican National Committee’s joint fundraising efforts are bringing in big checks, with major donors donating the maximum of more than $800,000. But the Republican candidate’s available money at the end of March still fell far short of what Biden and allied Democratic groups had stashed away.

MAGA Inc., the Trump-aligned super PAC, received large checks from some of the Republican Party’s biggest donors. Robert Bigelow donated an additional $4.1 million to the super PAC, increasing the total he donated to MAGA Inc. has donated comes to $9.2 million. Linda McMahon, who headed the Small Business Administration during the Trump administration and is now president of the America First Policy Institute, donated $5 million to the group. MAGA Inc. said it had about $33 million in cash on hand at the end of March after repaying $5 million to Save America.

Here are some other key takeaways from the latest filings:

A vice presidential windfall for Kennedy

Nicole Shanahan’s personal wealth was one of her most important assets when Robert F. Kennedy Jr. chose her as his running mate for his long, independent bid for the White House. FEC records show Shanahan helped replenish Kennedy’s campaign coffers a day after he joined the ticket on March 26, donating $2 million to the campaign. The money is a much-needed infusion that could boost Kennedy’s efforts to get out the vote in as many states as possible. As a candidate, Shanahan can donate an unlimited amount of money to the campaign.

Before running on the ticket, Shanahan had donated the maximum amount of $6,600 to Kennedy’s campaign. Her company, Planeta Management LLC, donated $500,000 in July to Common Sense PAC, another outside group that supported Kennedy. Planeta Management LLC also donated $4 million in January to American Values ​​2024, a super PAC that supported Kennedy — money that helped pay for a pro-Kennedy ad during the Super Bowl.

Democrats are touting financial gains as they seek control of the House of Representatives

Reports filed with the FEC this week show Democrats are expanding their fundraising advantage far beyond the presidential race in many key areas in the battle for control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Republican National Committee, which struggled to raise money during the Republican Party primaries, doubled its available cash and ended March with $22 million in cash. But the Democratic National Committee still has double that amount in its war chest, reporting $45.2 million in cash at the end of March.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which focuses on House races, had nearly $56 million in cash on hand at the end of March, significantly less than the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which had $71.1 million in cash.

The other influential groups involved in the competitive House races are also quickly raising money on both sides of the aisle. The Republican Party-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC reported that it had nearly $68.6 million in cash to spend on key races at the end of March, while the House Majority PAC still reported in filings on Saturday reported $63.2 million in cash. .

Although Senate Republicans face a much more favorable ticket and have managed to recruit several wealthy contenders in key races, some of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents are amassing enormous war chests. That group includes Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.), who had nearly $12.7 million in cash at the end of March; and Senator Sherrod Brown (Ohio), who had nearly $16 million in cash at the end of the period. Both are defending seats in states Trump won in 2016 and 2020.

Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada, a state that Democrats narrowly carried in the 2016 and 2020 presidential races, reported more than $13.2 million in cash at the end of March, setting her up for a tough race in November. Sam Brown, a retired Army captain who is the frontrunner in the GOP race, had about $2.3 million in cash at the end of March. His Republican rival, former Ambassador Jeff Gunter, reported nearly $2.6 million in his campaign coffers after loaning his campaign $2.7 million.