Donald Trump’s campaign owes nearly half of its debt to his own business, new documents show
The Trump campaign may continue to fundraise after claiming more than $ 2.7 million in debt in its last federal financial report of the year, with nearly half of that deficit owed to a shell company created and run by senior campaign officials.
The file, submitted to the Federal Election Commission on Sunday, also says the campaign repaid more than $ 11 million in illegal donations to nearly 4,300 contributors after the November election, though, as a senior official said campaign in Salon, the Republican National Committee automatically redirected excessive repeat donations from the Trump campaign to the RNC.
In general terms, perhaps the most notable information from the last report is the sharp drop in income. In the first 19 days after Trump’s election defeat, his campaign and the RNC raised more than $ 207 million with a fundraiser linked to the false allegation that Democrats stole the election, suggesting that the money would be used to fund a multi-state legal system. challenge that would reverse the result. Targeted donors were told in fine print that part of their contributions would be used to pay off campaign debt, but that flow ceased when Trump began to divert money to his new PAC leadership.
But the new record shows that in the weeks between Nov. 24 and Dec. 31, the campaign saw its cash stocks plummet, ending the year with $ 10.7 million on hand – less than one percent of the more than $ 1 billion raised over Trump has been in power for four years. In the same time frame, Trump’s new PAC, Save America, raised around $ 31 million, according to its year-end filing, barely the loot some observers had predicted.
However, the debt means the campaign can legally continue to fundraise until it pays what it owes, including through efforts like the post-election blitz, which split the funds. between the campaign and other entities, such as Save America – which could double as Trump’s personal account. In this way, the campaign can potentially serve as a source of income for the former president. While the Senate impeachment verdict does not prevent him from running for elected office in the future, Trump may also reserve the right to continue the campaign until 2024.
Notably, over $ 1 million of that debt is owed to an entity called American Made Media Consultants (AMMC), a shell company created and run by senior officials including former campaign manager Brad Parscale and former White House political adviser Jared Kushner, son of Trump. -in law. The AMMC was structured so that the campaign paid the company directly, and then the AMMC paid the providers for the digital and multimedia services. He quickly became by far the campaign’s largest supplier, receiving more than $ 700 million in about 18 months, according to FEC files. Campaign finance experts say the shell system is illegal because it hides and distorts the true destinations and use of donor funds.
But this shell system not only hides the true vendors of the campaign, it hides AMMC’s own debts as well. This means that the campaign owes money to unknown companies through the AMMC or owes money to its own officials. Campaign finance expert Brett Kappel told Salon that such a system would appeal to a campaign that must or wants to prioritize who it pays and when.
“In the days leading up to the election, the Trump campaign was running out of money, and it appears they chose to defer payments to vendors they knew they wouldn’t complain to – like the U.S. Treasury, to whom the campaign still owes $ 600,000, “Kappel said, referring to the second largest debt listed in the campaign’s latest filing. “Some of these vendors have strong campaign connections, and some, like American Made Media, employ campaign managers themselves. These companies probably wouldn’t mind waiting for their payments, at least not so much. “
The financial report also shows that the campaign repaid more than $ 11 million in illegal donations. All of these repayments came after the election, meaning the campaign could have effectively treated these illegal donations as interest-free loans, spending the money before the election and repaying it with contributions collected afterwards.
It is also significant that the Trump campaign reimbursement lists appear to have shrunk. In the weeks leading up to the election, the FEC repeatedly informed the campaign that it would have to reimburse or reallocate money from thousands of donors who had exceeded the legal limit ($ 5,600 combined for the primary and general elections ; $ 2,800 for each election individually). While these notices are fairly common, some of the maximum donor lists were extraordinarily long, several hundred pages longer than the notices sent to the Biden campaign.
This is likely the result of a relatively new fundraising option, where donors can choose to automatically repeat their contributions. Over time, it adds up, and since Trump’s campaign began fundraising almost immediately after he took office in 2017, the chances of regular donors being maximized were high. But something counterintuitive has happened: It would seem logical that more regular donors are reaching their limits as time goes on, but the ECF’s advice to the Trump campaign has shrunk considerably as the election approaches. .
A senior campaign official told Salon that the campaign captured and redirected surpluses to the Republican National Committee: “We are taking people off the list and to RNC donations once again,” the official said, adding that the RNC had built the automated process – not the campaign. The official did not respond when asked if donors had been informed that their money had been reallocated, or if they had been given the opportunity to recover or reallocate their contributions on their own.
In an email to Salon, a spokesperson for RNC pushed back the characterization, explaining that committees participating in pooled fundraising agreements typically transfer surpluses, and in this case, the arrangement was “part of warning “and that donors had the option to change where their money goes before making the contribution.
“To be clear: if a donor had already hit the Trump Campaign Max and gone to make another contribution to the Trump Campaign, there is no mechanism in place that would automatically send that donation to the RNC,” the spokesperson. “It would be the responsibility of the Trump campaign to pay him back.”
This article has been updated with comments from the RNC.