The political money machine that is Donald Trump continued to raise money in unprecedented amounts in the first half of 2021.
Trump-aligned PACs raised an astonishing $82 million — a record for ex-presidents. Taken with the cash on hand for these groups, Trump’s war chest tops $100 million.
Even Politico is impressed:
The scenario is virtually unprecedented: Never in history has a former president banked nine figures’ worth of donations to power a political operation. Over the first six months of the year, Trump’s political groups whipped up supporters with baseless claims of election fraud to pull in more cash than the Republican Party’s House and Senate campaign arms. The Trump committees raised nearly as much as the Republican National Committee.
Trump may have “whipped up” support, but it’s Joe Biden’s policies that are driving the fundraising for Trump. The former president doesn’t have to remind his supporters about the 2020 election when the current president is botching the recovery from the pandemic, recklessly spending money at unprecedented and frightening rates, and overheating the economy.
The former president’s fundraising was spread across three committees: Save America, a leadership PAC he launched shortly after losing the 2020 election; Make America Great Again PAC, his old campaign account which was converted into a PAC this year; and a joint fundraising outfit that sends its funds to the other two groups. Campaign finance disclosures filed late Saturday evening showed that Save Amerca took in the bulk of the funds — more than $62 million — and finished June with just over $90 million in its account.
Not all of that cash could be spent on a Trump 2024 run for president. FEC restrictions on how some of the cash can be used prevent that.
But Trump has already made an impact in two special House elections and is expected to increase his clout later in 2021, when two pivotal governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey are held. Trump endorsements in those two races may be decisive.
The Republican Party fundraising arm would dearly love to marry their operation to Trump’s fundraising juggernaut, but so far, the former president is keeping them at arm’s length.
Trump has been forceful in urging his supporters to route their cash through Save America, even at the expense of the Republican Party’s campaign organizations. During an appearance before the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this year, Trump said that that the “only” way to give to Trump-aligned candidates was through Save America. In the weeks after, Trump attorneys sent cease-and-desist letters to the party’s committees requesting that they stop using his name in fundraising appeals, which the party ignored.
It’s safe to say that the Republican Party needs Trump a lot more than he needs them.