February 1, 2021
By Jason Lange
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump’s fundraising committee, formed after he lost the November election to Democrat Joe Biden, raised $30.9 million in the final weeks of 2020, according to a disclosure filed on Sunday.
The filing with the Federal Election Commission showed that “Save America,” a Trump leadership PAC, or political action committee, ended the year with just over $31 million in cash.
The size of the haul – taken in from Nov. 24 to Dec. 31 – a period in which Trump was pursuing efforts to overturn his election defeat – gives a measure of his power to influence Republican politics even out of office.
As Trump faces his second Senate impeachment trial, on a charge of inciting his followers’ deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, many congressional Republicans have defended him or attacked the impeachment process.
The roughly $31 million raised over roughly the past five weeks of 2020 rivaled the sums raised by Trump’s re-election campaign earlier in 2020. In May and June of 2020, for example, his campaign raised about $25 million and $55 million, respectively.
Trump could use the funds to support or oppose Republicans in the 2022 congressional elections.
His options include contributing to lawmakers he views as loyal to him, such as U.S. Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, as a possible Senate contender, or funding challengers to those he sees as disloyal, such as U.S. Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the highest-ranking House of Representatives Republican to vote to impeach him.
For now, the former president’s committee is mostly sitting on its cash, ending 2020 with most of the money raised still in the bank. During the final weeks of the year, the Save America PAC spent just over $200,000, according to the disclosure. All of its spending went toward fees charged by WinRed, a Republican online fundraising platform.
Trump, who left office on Jan. 20, has baselessly alleged that he lost the election because of voter fraud, although he and his allies failed to convince courts of his claims.
After losing the election, Trump repurposed part of his fundraising infrastructure toward supporting the Save America PAC.
His fundraising tactics have fueled criticism – including from Republicans – that he misled some supporters by urging them to fund legal efforts to challenge the election results when the fine print of emails in fact showed a large portion of their money would instead go to the Save America PAC and the Republican National Committee.
Leadership PACs like Save America have broad leeway in how they can use their funds and are often set up by prominent political figures to spend money on other candidates, while also paying for personal expenses, such as travel and hotel stays.
(Reporting by Jason Lange in Washinton; Additional reporting by Grant Smith in New York; Editing by Kim Coghill and Peter Cooney)