It’s Day 1 of the Trump Campaign—and His Donors Are Already Exhausted
Trump kicked off his campaign Tuesday night, which means he now can’t touch the money he’s already raised in his Save America PAC. But also means his donors are fair game again.
Published Nov. 16, 2022 4:55AM ET
Listen to article12 minutes
When Donald Trump officially announced on Tuesday that he’s running for president again in 2024, the fundraising race reset.
But in many ways, that race never stopped. The former president has been raising money ceaselessly over the last year, and while his massive war chest might seem like an asset, in reality it could also pose some liabilities—especially as Trump tries to lock his grip on an increasingly nervous Republican Party.
The biggest single problem for Trump is that he cannot jumpstart his campaign with any of the money he’s been raising into his flagship Save America leadership PAC, which would otherwise give him an intimidating $70 million advantage.
There’s a hard rule against candidates using leadership PACs to support their own political efforts, so Trump’s campaign can’t touch any of that money. And that fact has led him to adopt some creative, confusing, and possibly unlawful ways of moving it around.
First, Trump created a new campaign committee for his 2024 re-election bid—“Donald J. Trump for President 2024.” That will give the one-term hopeful a more or less clean start on fundraising, albeit with some key structural benefits over his rivals.
One of those advantages is the extensive donor contact list Trump has built up over the years. Trump has used that information to raise money since leaving the White House, but he has to find a way for the new campaign to get its hands on that valuable data—and he doesn’t want to have to pay for it.
The Trump team will solve that problem with a joint fundraising committee, called “Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee.” (Not to be confused with Save America, or his Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, of course.) That new group will serve to connect the new campaign to Save America, opening up access to that valuable donor data.
But that still leaves the biggest question unanswered. Even after barraging donors with Save America fundraising requests for the last two years—including through automatically recurring donation schemes and potentially fraudulent promises—Trump now finds himself unable to put that money where he needs it the most. He’ll have to start fresh, and find a way to motivate and sustain a small-dollar base that’s coming off of a midterm fundraising blitz and is already dangerously exhausted.