US president Donald Trump has raised about $170 million (€142 million) since election day as his campaign operation has continued to aggressively solicit donations with hyped-up appeals that have funded his fruitless attempts to overturn the election and that have seeded his post-presidential political ambitions, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The money, much of which was raised in the first week after the election, according to the person, has arrived as Mr Trump has made false claims about fraud and sought to undermine public confidence in the legitimacy of president-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Instead of slowing down after the election, Mr Trump’s campaign has ratcheted up its volume of email solicitations for cash, telling supporters that money was needed for an “election defence fund”.
In reality, the fine print shows that the first 75 per cent of every contribution currently goes to a new political action committee that Mr Trump set up in mid-November, Save America, which can be used to fund his political activities going forward, including staff and travel. The other 25 per cent of each donation is directed to the Republican National Committee.
A donor has to give $5,000 to Mr Trump’s new PAC before any funds go to his recount account. Still, the Trump campaign continues to urgently ask for cash.
On Monday, Mr Trump signed a campaign email that breathlessly told supporters that the end of November – nearly four weeks after election day – represented “our most IMPORTANT deadline EVER”.
The Washington Post reported earlier on Monday that Mr Trump's post-election efforts had raised more than $150 million. Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Mr Trump's campaign, declined to comment on the fundraising.
The $170 million figure, raised in less than four weeks, is an enormous sum that rivals the amounts of money brought in at the peak of the campaign.
While a breakdown of the money was not immediately available, the deluge of donations would appear to have paid off any remaining Trump campaign debt (in the first days after the election, the fine print showed that contributions were earmarked for that purpose). The money is also likely to provide Mr Trump with a sizable financial head start in paying for his post-presidency political activities.
Despite the influx of cash, both the Trump campaign and the RNC have reduced the size of their staffs since the election. In October, Mr Trump’s campaign began automatically checking a box on its website so that more donors would make additional, weekly donations from their accounts through December 14th – the day the electoral college will vote – to create a post-election revenue stream. Donors can opt out with an extra click, but critics called the tactic misleading.
Mr Trump’s team created the political action committee, known as a leadership PAC, in part to capture the influx of post-election money, according to people familiar with the matter.
Currently, donors on Mr Trump’s website are opted in with a pre-checked box to make monthly contributions.
Rob Flaherty, who served as Mr Biden's digital director, said on Twitter that the huge sums raised by Trump since the election were "plain and simple grift".
On Monday, Arizona and Wisconsin, two key battlegrounds that Mr Biden flipped this year, certified their election results, formalising Mr Biden's victory as Mr Trump and his allies have continued to complain without evidence of fraud. – New York Times