Trump raises big money in early 2021, but doesn’t spend much

Former U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.

A fundraising group run by former President Donald Trump raised $62 million in the first half of the year but only spent $3 million, with the biggest chunk of money going to a pro-Trump research center and more than $65,000 to Trump’s own hotels, according to federal records published on Saturday.

Trump, a Republican, established the Save America committee in November shortly after losing the presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden. Under Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules, the committee has broad leeway in how it can use its money.

A filing with the FEC showed Save America made a $1 million contribution in June to the America First Policy Institute, a nonprofit run by veterans of his administration.

The group’s leadership includes Brooke Rollins, who led the White House’s Domestic Policy Council under Trump, and Larry Kudlow, who led Trump’s National Economic Council.

The money spent at Trump hotels was described as covering lodging or meals, according to Save America’s filing.

Another Trump-controlled committee, a former campaign account now known as the Make America Great Again PAC, spent an additional $13 million in the first half of the year, mostly to cover legal fees and Trump’s efforts to reverse his November election loss, according to a separate FEC filing.

Together, the two committees brought in the bulk of the nearly $82 million that Trump’s office said he helped raise between January and June.

Committees affiliated with Trump ended the period with nearly $102 million in cash, a sum that could help the former president exert considerable influence ahead of next year’s elections when Republicans hope to win control of Congress. Democrats have narrow majorities in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

But while Trump is his party’s top fundraiser and continues to raise large sums for the Republican National Committee, his committees did not give any money to political candidates during the first half of the year.

A spokesperson for his office said $5,000 checks were sent in July to candidates he had endorsed. Details on those contributions are expected in FEC filings due later in the year.

Many of the candidates Trump has endorsed, particularly those challenging incumbent Republicans or seeking open seats, lag far behind their opponents in fundraising. Trump-backed Kelly Tshubaka, who is challenging Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, had about $2 million less in her campaign’s bank account at the end of June than did Murkowski.

Republicans will face a well-funded slate of Democrats in next year’s elections.

Democrats raised over $373 million in online donations in the first six months of the year through ActBlue, the party’s dominant payment processor, according to a disclosure filed on Saturday. That outpaced the $258 million that Republicans raised during the same period through their online payment processor WinRed.

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