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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Biden Bucks, Trump's Washing Machine

President Biden's re-election team now has $130 million in the bank, while the RNC has little cash and Donald Trump's team is spending tens of millions on legal bills.Why it matters: Despite Democratic angst over the president's poor polling, the Biden campaign announced this morning that it raised $42 million in January — adding to his vast fundraising advantage over Trump and the RNC, Axios' Hans Nichols and Alex Thompson write.

 By the numbers: The RNC started the year with over $8 million in cash on hand. Trump's campaign had $33 million on hand. Neither has released fundraising totals for January.Biden, the DNC and other affiliated committees raked in contributions at the same time his Republican rivals were attacking each other.

Trump's legal problems — which cost his political fundraising apparatus $50+ million last year — show no signs of going away.

Reality check: Incumbent presidents often have a financial advantage going into an election year.Trump and the RNC had more cash at this point in 2020 before Biden ultimately made up ground

Roger Sollenberger at The Daily Beast:

Last year, the former president’s legal expenses would have bankrupted Trump’s “Save America” leadership PAC—his de facto legal slush fund—had he not demanded a $60 million refund from a Trump-aligned super PAC. The super PAC bit the bullet, kicking back more than $42 million so far, with a $5 million hit every month until that obligation is repaid.

Libowitz explained that if Trump’s philosophy is applied to the RNC, it could have profound implications for what is typically a party-wide fundraising bonanza.

“It’s a giant operation that doesn’t spring up overnight. It requires planning and staff, and decisions on how money is going to which states through the national party,” Libowitz said. “Where this can go sideways is if there’s not a ton of committees joining then that affects the limits on how much people can raise, and you get this sort of federalist setup where everyone is doing their own thing.”

The RNC has revved up that “washing machine” even without Trump as the nominee. Last month, the RNC launched a generic presidential fundraising vehicle called “the Presidential Republican Nominee Fund 2024,” which then joined the generic “2024 RNC Joint Victory” armada of dozens of state party committees. But only 39 state groups have signed on so far, with each missing state party leaving money on the table.

Brendan Fischer, deputy executive director of watchdog Documented, said Trump would almost certainly try to siphon more cash out of the system.

“We have every reason to expect that Trump will get the RNC to include Save America as part of a joint fundraising agreement,” Fischer said, noting that Save America initially had a joint agreement involving the RNC when it was launched after the 2020 election.

“Depending on the allocation formula between the committees, Trump’s legal expense slush fund will soak up contributions that would otherwise go to the Republican Party,” he said.

That allocation is exactly what Trump wants to control, Libowitz said, so he can ensure he gets priority treatment.

“But he’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, because this is donor money given to win an election, that he’s now claiming for his own personal purposes,” he said, noting that the potential combination of two enormous legal judgments against Trump in New York would only make Trump want more.

Some Republican insiders have expressed concerns about the Trump effect on fundraising. One veteran GOP strategist told The Daily Beast that the history of personal splurges itself might turn off donors, even if the RNC runs a tight ship.

“If people think their money is going to go to hair and makeup or legal bills, they’re far less likely to give anything at all—even if it’s really for voter contact,” this GOP strategist said. “So in a way, the stench of irresponsible spending is just as bad as actually spending it poorly.”