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Donald Trump, Save America and Tons of Money, The Controversy continues

  • Posted on November 1, 2022
  • News
  • By Akta Yadav

Despite having golden toilets, former President Donald Trump is infamous for being frugal, both with his own money and the hundreds of millions of dollars he has taken from supporters over the years. And for this and other reasons, government watchdogs are warning the public about a recent campaign finance report that reveals a staggering $20 million political donation from Trump just one month before the midterm elections.


Trump's Save America leadership PAC made the largest contribution of all time to a brand-new super PAC called Make America Great Again Inc. A previous pro-Trump super PAC contributed an additional $8.9 million to the new organization that same day.


But as several campaign finance experts pointed out, Trump is attempting to circumvent regulations that would otherwise forbid him from using his funds to run for president in 2024.


That was "the only plausible explanation," according to Paul S. Ryan, a highly experienced campaign finance advocate who is currently the deputy executive director of Funders' Committee for Civic Participation. Ryan further noted that Trump cannot support himself with the tens of millions of dollars he has raised for his PAC leadership. The only conceivable reason for this action, according to Ryan, is to convert the funds for use in his campaign.


Further, Jordan Libowitz, communications director at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington observed that if Trump intended to help republicans he would have done that but Trump is always about Trump. Before making a formal announcement, this appears to be a strategy for him to move money in support of his campaign.


Save America was formed by Trump after the 2020 election, as a leadership PAC, which has advantages and disadvantages. Trump would benefit from lax spending regulations because leadership PACs are notorious for being used as "slush funds" for personal expenses. Trump could use the money he raised to reinvest in his businesses, his friends, and his wife's favorite luxury designer.


However, Trump's biggest setback as he plans his comeback in 2024 is that he isn't allowed to use leadership PAC funds to support his political activity. $138 million has been raised in total, with about $70 million of that remaining in his primary fundraising account.


Trump could, however, use that money to support his allies in any amount. In that sense, Save America could function exactly like a super PAC. Which, in Brendan Fischer's opinion, suggests that Trump's team is attempting to "manufacture deniability" to spend the money later, supporting Trump's 2024 presidential campaign.


Fischer suggested that transferring Save America funds to a super PAC would be against the law once Trump declares himself a candidate. However, it appears that Trump is attempting to create deniability by making the transfers now and having MAGA Inc. spend money during the 2022 midterm elections. In this way, Trump's campaign could claim that Save America donated to MAGA Inc. to support Trump-endorsed candidates and that the super PAC had extra funds that it independently decided to spend supporting Trump's bid for president in 2024.


Save America is more able to support other candidates than a super PAC because it is a hard-money PAC, according to Fischer. "While MAGA Inc. and Save America can both spend an unlimited amount on political advertisements, only Save America is allowed to give money directly to candidates. The money from Save America has been transferred to a super PAC, making it ineligible for direct contributions.


Ryan opined that moving the money implies that he intends to use it for himself. Even though it's against the law, that seems to be the motivation, so he'll probably get away with it. Ryan was referring to federal regulations that prohibit candidates from working together with super PACs to raise money and make expenditures, a charge that is notoriously difficult to prove.


"Coordination is still unquestionably illegal in this country, despite the FEC's lack of interest in enforcing coordination regulations and laws. Although there isn't a concrete smoking gun, in this case, it appears that a loophole was exploited, and three GOP commissioners have made no effort to look into or uphold the existing coordination laws", according to Scherb, Senior director of legislative affairs at Common Cause. Special interest and dark money groups will continue to take advantage of loopholes at the expense of regular voters until they do.


According to reports, the Justice Department has launched an investigation into Save America's fundraising methods after members of the Jan 6 House Committee laid out what they claim to have been a wire fraud scheme to defraud donors of hundreds of millions of dollars through false election claims.


FEC reports indicate that the MAGA Inc super PAC has already invested about $11 million in the midterm elections. Fischer clarified that the super PAC had also already raised more than $11 million from sources other than Save America, so that doesn't mean the group used any of Trump's funds.


The $20 million that was transferred from Save America to MAGA Inc. is still available for Trump's 2024 campaign, according to Fischer. And any transfers made from Save America to the super PAC in the final days leading up to the election will probably never be used. 


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Akta Yadav

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