Trump’s Deal With R.N.C. Prioritizes PAC Paying His Lawyers


Former President Donald J. Trump’s new shared fund-raising agreement with the Republican National Committee directs a portion of donations to the political account he has used to pay his legal bills before any money goes to the party itself.

The order in which entities will receive funds from big donors through what is known as the Trump 47 Committee was disclosed in the fine print of an invitation to a big dinner next month in Palm Beach, Fla., where top donors are asked to contribute up to $814,600 per person to attend.

The invitation shows that the first $6,600 donated will go to Mr. Trump’s campaign. The next $5,000 will go to his Save America PAC, which paid more than $50 million in legal and investigation-related bills for Mr. Trump in 2023. The $5,000 amount is the maximum that federal rules say can be contributed to Save America by an individual.

After that, the R.N.C. gets the next $413,000, followed by dozens of state parties.

In practice, what that means is that even modestly large contributors — anything above $6,600 — will fund the account that Mr. Trump has used to defray legal costs. And the fund-raising agreement came as Save America, which has averaged roughly $5 million a month in legal payments for Mr. Trump and witnesses in his cases, is on course to run low on funds as the spring ends.

The prioritization of Mr. Trump’s Save America PAC before the Republican National Committee was first reported by The Associated Press.

The new fund-raising agreement comes shortly after Mr. Trump has functionally taken over the R.N.C. as the presumptive Republican nominee. He pushed to install a new chairman, Michael Whatley, and to have his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, as co-chair.

One of Mr. Trump’s two co-campaign managers, Chris LaCivita, has pushed through mass layoffs amid a top-to-bottom restructuring.

Mr. Trump begins the general election ahead of President Biden in the polls but behind him in campaign cash. Mr. Biden and his joint operations with the party reported $155 million in cash on hand as of the end of February. The Trump campaign said it had $42 million across its accounts while the R.N.C. reported another $11.3 million.

The invitation to the April 6 dinner, which The New York Times previously reported was expected to raise $25 million, listed a number of familiar names as co-chairs. Those people included Robert Bigelow, a former top supporter of Ron DeSantis who gave Mr. Trump’s super PAC $5 million in February; Kelly Loeffler, the former senator from Georgia; Linda McMahon, a former Trump cabinet official and major Trump donor; and Rebekah Mercer, who had been a major backer of Mr. Trump in 2016.

The nature of such a dinner for megadonors is that most funds will still go to the party. But for a smaller event with, for instance, a $25,000 price to attend, a far larger share under the agreement would go to Mr. Trump’s PAC.

Trump officials have angrily pushed back on suggestions that the R.N.C. will be defraying any of Mr. Trump’s personal legal fees. The new arrangement allows Mr. Trump to tap funds from larger donors for his legal matters without the money ever passing through the R.N.C.

These joint fund-raising agreements are standard in presidential politics. Mr. Biden has one with the Democratic National Committee and state parties that allows him to raise money in similarly large increments.

What is unusual in Mr. Trump’s case is that the nominee has a PAC included in the agreement that is being used to fund legal fees. Save America ended February with $4 million in the bank and roughly $500,000 in debts. It spent $7.2 million last month, with nearly $5.6 million tagged as legal expenses and $400,000 transferred to another account that has also paid legal bills.

Mr. Trump is already directing 10 percent of every dollar he raises online to his PAC, a share that he raised from 1 percent early in his presidential run.

A spokesman for Mr. Trump did not immediately return a request for comment.

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