Will Donald Trump’s leadership PAC 'swindle' go unpunished?
Donald Trump addresses crowd in Sioux City, Iowa in 2016. (Shutterstock.com)

After Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, he launched a new political action committee: Save America, which is set up as a “leadership PAC.” A Republican PAC, theoretically, should benefit Republicans in general and not simply be a promotional tool for the former president. But in an article published by The Bulwark on September 19, Never Trump conservative Amanda Carpenter argues that Trump has been highly self-serving where the Save America PAC is concerned.

“Trump’s Save America PAC is constructed as a ‘leadership PAC’ with relatively loose rules governing what can be done with the money,” Carpenter explains. “The main restriction is that a politician cannot use PAC money to fund his or her own campaign, which means that Trump has great latitude to do what he likes with the money, so long as he doesn’t use it to directly support a 2024 presidential bid. Traditionally, a leadership PAC is used by candidates to raise and distribute money for other candidates. Trump did do something roughly along these lines with some of the money. Approximately $4.2 million was spent funding efforts to elect Republican senators in the January 5, 2021 Georgia runoffs, which, coincidentally enough, also galvanized Trump’s ‘Stop the Steal’ efforts.”

Save America, according to Carpenter, has “reportedly raised over $135 million” since it was founded in November 2020, and she notes some of the ultra-MAGA things that money has been used for.

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Carpenter observes, “Save America gave nearly $8.7 million to Event Strategies Inc., the company that organized Trump’s Jan. 6th rally on the Ellipse…. The New York Times reported that Save America paid more than $3.1 million in ‘legal consulting’ fees and salaries for a number of former Trump aides who were subpoenaed to testify to the Jan. 6th Committee and who have been subpoenaed for other inquiries related to the seizure of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago…. Save America gave $1 million to America First Policy Institute, a think tank set up by former Trump officials to promote Trump’s agenda…. Save America donated $650,000 to the Smithsonian to pay for portraits of Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump.”

The Never Trumper goes on to lay out some more ways in which Trump has been self-serving with Save America.

“Although Save America was never really a legal defense fund, Politico reports that Trump now has apparently tapped into it to pay for a pricey lawyer — not to defend his false claims about the 2020 election, but to defend himself in various legal and investigatory proceedings now underway,” Carpenter observes. “It is unclear whether Trump will get away with raising PAC money under the guise of an ‘official election defense fund’ and spending it to boost unrelated personal and political interests. Given how broadly the laws are written regarding PACs, and the fact that the Federal Election Commission doesn’t seem vigorous about enforcement, it’s possible that the Save America PAC swindle may go unpunished.”

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