Donald Trump has already raised a massive war chest for his 2024 presidential run, but a new analysis shows he can't use the bulk of it for his re-election campaign.
The Guardian examined the former president's fundraising operation and found that his small-donor network is dwindling and some high-profile donors have abandoned him, and the analysis revealed that about $78 million of the $95 million raised so far cannot be used directly on campaign operations.
“There are a lot of moving parts, but there are a lot of reasons to believe that Trump is struggling more than he has in recent years to raise money,” said Robert Maguire, research director at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
That watchdog Campaign Legal Center (CLC) has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that Trump is violating "soft money" laws by moving money from leadership PACs to super PACs after becoming a presidential candidate.
“Therefore Trump violated federal law that prohibits that kind of soft money transfer,” said Saurav Ghosh, director of federal campaign finance reform for the CLC.
Trump raised an astonishing $882 million during the 2020 cycle and $500 million more since then, but those funds have been depleted by legal defense spending, Melania Trump's personal designer and assistance to Jan. 6 rioters, the analysis found.
The ex-president's team and his allies have set up a network of similarly named PACs and committees, and the most prolific one in this cycle, Save America leadership PAC, raised about $111 million and has about $21 million left after the midterms, but those funds must be spent to support other candidates and can't be used on his own race.
Other Super PACs have about $57 million more on hand, and while they can be spent to support Trump's campaign and rallies, they cannot coordinate with his campaign operation.
While he continues to draw smaller donations from supporters around the country, Trump has lost his top two donors from 2016 -- Robert and Rebekah Mercer -- and megadonors like hedge fund manager Ken Griffin and Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman have publicly said they aren't helping out.
“He captivates a huge population of small-dollar donors willing to keep giving their money to him,” Maguire said. “He still has the capacity to raise money off the MAGA crowd, but the question is, ‘Is that going to cool off? Is there enough in the till?’ -- and that remains to be seen.”