Former president Donald Trump is running a "shadow campaign" for president in 2024 so that he can skirt campaign finance laws by using money from his super PACs to finance his travel, MAGA rallies and other activities — and possibly inject money into his own pockets.
"As long as Trump doesn't explicitly announce he's running for president, he can essentially raise as much money as he wants from whomever he wants, and spend it unfettered by the restrictions or transparency requirements imposed upon actual candidates," Rolling Stone reported Tuesday.
Fred Wertheimer of the reform nonprofit Democracy 21 told the magazine, "The way to look at the super PAC is as a giant slush fund for Trump to do whatever he wants with."
The report blames Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell for blocking campaign finance reform, in part by installing Don McGahn — who would later serve as a Trump administration lawyer — as an FEC commissioner in 2008. Other presidential candidates who've taken advantage of the super PAC loophole include Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio — "but there are few entities in the history of humankind who are more keen to exploit lax financial oversight than Donald Trump," the report states.
"It's unclear exactly if and to what extent Trump will use this potential pre-campaign campaign to enrich himself personally," Rolling Stone reported. "He has at every step found ways to funnel money into his own pockets, toeing the line of what's legal and bulldozing past any ethical considerations."
Nick Penniman, CEO of the political reform group Issue One, said: "The opportunity for self-dealing with leadership PACs is really extraordinary. [They] are pretty much used for lifestyle. If, for instance, Trump were to hold some kind of an event at Mar-a-Lago, he could 'reimburse' that event out of his leadership PAC. This could very well end up just being a way for him to inject money into Trump, Inc."
Rolling Stone reported that Trump's "burgeoning shadow campaign, complete with media appearances and rallies and public displays of dominance over his competitors, is the loudest siren yet that Trump is very much not gone, and neither is his unfathomably brazen corruption."
According to Penniman, "All of that crossing of lines between politics, business, and public life is going to come roaring back like acne. All this stuff that we just cringed at is just going to be happening again."