Ann Ravel, a Democrat who served on the Federal Election Commission, said fundraising outside Mar-a-Lago was “really unseemly.” “If [donor funding] remains in the political arena, even if it wasn`t used for the political purposes for which it was collected, I think it`s a difficult case for a prosecutor to really care,” he said. Manhattan prosecutors say Bannon repeatedly promised donors that the organization`s director, Brian Kolfage, “would not personally take a dime in compensation for these donations.” This pitch was effective; The charity has raised more than $25 million. But the marketing tactics weren`t true. Bannon allegedly secretly helped Kolfage pocket more than $350,000. To conceal the money transfer, Bannon is accused of funneling large sums of money through third parties, including those he controlled. (Kolfage pleaded guilty to fraud charges earlier this year.) Another former Trump campaign official said the fund was simply a “marketing tactic.” Former president used donations for a non-existent legal defense fund for his hotels and the Jan. 6 Ellipse rally But Torres-Spelliscy and Gross both cited another example, when a Trump aide was linked to allegations of misuse of donations, even though he was not linked to an official campaign for the post. In 2020, prosecutors charged Steve Bannon, a former political adviser to Trump, with wire fraud after raising $25 million as part of a campaign to build a wall on the southern border — but allegedly took millions of dollars of those donations to line his pockets. Campaign finance experts say Trump`s request for funds for a non-existent campaign defense fund and then funneling that money to his executive PAC was unethical, but likely on the verge of complete illegality.
Immediately after the media announced Joe Biden`s election on November 7, 2020, a joint fundraising committee between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee called the Trump Make America Great Again Committee blew up Trump supporters with numerous requests for donations. Many of these pleas demanded money to fund an “official legal defense fund.” Trump registered a new Save America PAC on Nov. 9. Then, as the Washington Post explains, Save America quietly went through 75% of each message. CREW`s Maguire said there were “very clear” ethical issues in how Trump collected the money. But he said fundraising was probably legal. Republican officials and fundraisers, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to openly address the dynamic, said Trump had raised huge sums for the party, either directly or by using his name or image in campaign applications. Advisers to other committees, including the RNC, say their arguments ensure more money when they call Trump, which often angers him. His political team has asked the committees to send his team any announcement in which he appears for approval.
Just this week, Trump supporters have been attacked by a series of appeals for funds, one more exotic than the other. There was an invitation to sign Trump`s card for his 76th birthday — but only if you made a donation in advance. It is unclear whether Trump will get away with collecting PAC money under the guise of an “official election defense fund” and spending it on promoting independent personal and political interests. The money will be requested through a fundraising vehicle that can pump money into Donald Trump`s PAC, Save America, and another fund, Make America Great Again PAC, which has evolved since his first presidential campaign. These payments are authorized because Save America is a leadership PAC with few restrictions on the use of funds. These committees can not only promote like-minded candidates, but can also be used to pay consultants, cover travel expenses, and cover legal fees, among other things. And in August, Save America spent more than $3.8 million on legal advice, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission. The committee has spent a total of $42 million so far during this cycle — much of which has been used for payroll, event runs and fundraising — and had more than $92 million in reserve by the end of the summer. He says an example would be a campaign that asks for donations and says it would go to TV commercials, but is instead used for another effort within the campaign — things like that happen all the time. And while there is no evidence showing the funds were converted for personal use rather than in the political arena, Gross said it would be difficult for a prosecutor to take over the case. Trump`s Save America PAC is built as a “leadership PAC” with relatively loose rules governing what can be done with the money. The main limitation is that a politician cannot use PAC money to fund his own campaign, meaning Trump has a wide margin to do whatever he wants with the money, as long as he doesn`t use it to directly support a 2024 presidential bid.
David Becker, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research, said the non-existent “election defense fund” added a new layer to the Jan. 6 investigation. In addition to riots, riots and a coup attempt, the American people have now learned about Grift. Republicans at the state level have also used party resources to cover legal fees associated with Trump`s attempts to stay in power. Georgia`s GOP paid more than $20,000 this summer to the company, which represents party officials, including President David Shafer, before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Another $25,000 went to the firm that represents Shafer and other members of a number of alternative voters who support Trump despite his defeat in the state. Shafer declined to comment. In that case, Trump said he was using donor money for his legal defense fund. And it happened after the elections were over. Fischer, a lawyer and deputy executive director of Documented, an investigative watchdog group, said donors had been told their money would support a legal challenge. In response to questions about using the donations to cover the former president`s legal bills, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich accused Democrats of “arming taxpayer dollars with false investigations and baseless cases to intimidate and silence Republicans.” But they also said his CAP`s incessant email and SMS calls have contributed to burnout among smaller donors who might otherwise send more of their disposable income to contests.
These donors, a GOP fundraiser said, are “informed that they are engaged in a fight against the Democrats,” but rather “helping Trump fight his legal troubles.” Some of Trump`s small donors have reached out to the former president`s office to say they`d like to donate more, but can`t afford it after so many requests. “There`s not necessarily a specific campaign finance law that prohibits blanket deceptive fundraising,” she said, “but it`s certainly a problem we`ve seen for many years.” “Whether it`s legally enforceable, I`m not quite willing to go there unless we have other aggravating facts like conversion to personal use,” Gross said. The Republican National Committee has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover Trump`s personal legal fees. The party explained the unusual deal, first revealed by The Washington Post last fall, calling the investigations politically motivated. Trump`s leadership PAC has avoided such commitments. Of Save America`s total spending of $500,000 or more, only seven went to groups primarily concerned with race spending in this cycle.