Former President Donald Trump’s political committees raised about $24 million over the past three months, a staggering sum to be sure. However, an analysis of his filing shows that the embattled ex-president also spent more than $37 million during the same period, for a net loss of around $13 million.
In fact, Trump’s fundraising last quarter was a little closer to $3.6 million — that’s actually how much he raised for his two main committees, which he can use for things like political activity, events, legal fees, and enriching his businesses. But while those two committees earned about $3.6 million, they also spent about $15.5 million on operating expenses.
Those losses didn’t stop Trump’s allies from boasting to the media that the ongoing federal investigation into his hoarding of government records was proving to be a political and financial win, and claiming the legal nonsense only fueled his MAGA base . In truth, they didn’t tell the full story — the twice-impeachable former president had been bleeding money all along while apparently struggling to attract small donors.
A Trump spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
This analysis is based on the most recent Federal Election Commission files from Trump’s three active fundraising committees. In the past three months, these groups spent a combined $23 million on fundraising-related services. Considering just those expenses, Trump walked away with just over $1 million. But his other expenses took a big bite — legal fees alone ate up $7.5 million — leaving him a total of $13 million in the hole.
Since these three committees are all linked and share the money, it can be difficult to get to the truth. For example, Fox News ran an article this week falsely claiming that one of its committees raised $24.7 million that quarter when it only raised about $3.3 million.
But if we want any idea of Trump’s real bottom line, we only need to look at two of the three groups.
One is the infamous Save America leadership group PAC (Save America), and the other is Trump’s old campaign committee, now called the Make America Great Again PAC (MAGA PAC). These committees manage the expenses for political activities.
According to FEC reports, Save America and MAGA PAC raised just over $3.6 million from donations last quarter — a far cry from $24 million.
That’s because the $24 million was raised by the third group, a joint fundraising entity called the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee (SAJFC), which handles almost all of Trump’s fundraising.
The only real purpose SAJFC serves is to act as a middleman. She doesn’t get involved in political activities, instead raising money directly from loose change donors and splitting the proceeds between the other two Trump groups. And the files show that nearly every dollar of the $3.6 million that Save America and MAGA PAC have raised through donations over the past three months came from this group.
But even though SAJFC raised $24 million, it cost $22 million to get there. And as The Daily Beast reported Thursday, more than $20 million of that spending went to services that help Trump raise money — things like web and SMS ads, digital consulting, direct mail, donor lists, online merchant fees and the same.
Because of these high costs, SAJFC was only able to send a few million dollars to the two groups that actually fuel Trump’s political activity — paying for his rallies and other events, buying political ads, funding legal expenses, and donating to MAGA allies and friendly outside groups.
Even if SAJFC had transferred every last dollar in their account to these groups, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. The committee was left with just $6.2 million in the bank, not nearly enough to cover the $13 million overall deficit.
Of course, Trump is still sitting on a huge pile of cash. Save America has about $92 million in cash that Trump can use to influence allies, line his pockets, fund a likely 2024 presidential bid, and deter challengers within the party. That’s almost three times the size of the Republican National Committee. (Save America made a federal political contribution last month — $100,000 to Bikers for Trump.)
Still, the unusually high spending-to-giving ratio lends further credence to concerns that Trump’s own efforts are becoming more shaky and unsustainable as Republicans have generally raised more money. After years of bombarding supporters with requests for donations, he may actually be having trouble finding donors who are willing and able to give him money.
Up to this point, it’s worth noting that most of the $1.2 million that went to MAGA PAC – Trump’s legacy campaign – hasn’t been raised recently.
More than $800,000 of that came from old donations that had sat on another inactive committee for almost two years. They go back to November 4, 2020 – the day after the election. As of September 30, Trump’s old campaign had only about $1.1 million available.