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Trump fundraising agreement prioritizes payments to PAC covering legal fees before RNC

Former President Trump’s new joint fundraising agreement with the Republican National Committee (RNC) will send donations to his campaign and a political action committee covering his legal bills before they go toward the party itself.

The arrangement means Republican donors may see a portion of their money go toward helping Trump pay off his exorbitant legal bills before they are used for the national party and state parties for election season.

The details of the joint fundraising agreement were first reported by The Associated Press, citing the fine print of an April 6 fundraiser invite.

The invitation states that donations to the joint fundraising committee, known as the Trump 47 Committee, will first be used to give the maximum amount allowed under Federal Election Commission (FEC) guidelines to the Trump campaign. Remaining money will go toward the maximum donation to the Save America PAC, and any money leftover will go toward the RNC and state political parties.

The Trump campaign in a statement to The Hill noted Save America covers expenses beyond the former president’s legal fees and downplayed the overall amount the PAC will receive if a donor maxes out.

“Save America also covers a very active and robust post-Presidency office and other various expenses not related to fighting the illegal witch-hunts perpetrated by Crooked Joe Biden,” Trump campaign communications director Steven Cheung said. “The Trump campaign, the RNC, and state GOP parties ultimately receive the overwhelming majority of funds raised through the Trump 47 Committee. Out of an Individual donor’s maximum contribution of $824,600, less than 1% (.006%) goes to Save America.”

Save America has so far spent millions of dollars paying Trump’s lawyers as he faces dozens of felony counts spread across four separate trials.

He was indicted in New York City over an alleged hush money scheme; in Georgia for attempting to overturn the state’s election results in 2020; in Washington, D.C., for trying to subvert the election results in 2020; and in Florida for his handling and retention of classified documents.

Trump’s fundraising committees spent roughly $50 million total on legal fees in 2023.

It is typical for presidential candidates to broker a joint fundraising agreement with the national party, allowing them to raise larger amounts for the general election. Trump secured enough delegates earlier this month to become the presumptive GOP nominee.

But some RNC members had expressed concerns that party funds would be used to cover his legal bills, and they unsuccessfully pursued a resolution to block the use of party money for that purpose.

Trump has, in recent weeks, fully transformed the RNC. His preferred candidates, Michael Whatley and Lara Trump, were elected chair and co-chair of the national party. His top campaign adviser, Chris LaCivita, moved over to oversee operations at the RNC.

Last week, dozens of RNC staffers were fired or told to reapply for their jobs, and Whatley laid out changes to the organization’s data and political operations, which are now led by Trump allies.

LaCivita has said on multiple occasions that RNC money would not go toward paying Trump’s legal bills.

With less than eight months until Election Day, Trump is badly trailing President Biden and his campaign in fundraising.

Election filings made public Wednesday showed Trump’s 2024 campaign brought in $10.9 million last month, while his joint fundraising committee raised nearly $11 million. His operation overall had about $42 million in cash on hand entering March.

Those figures lagged far behind Biden’s campaign operation, which raised roughly $53 million in February, giving it $155 million in cash on hand entering March.

“If Donald Trump put up these kinds of numbers on ‘The Apprentice,’ he’d fire himself,” Biden campaign communications director Michael Tyler said in a statement. “But here’s why he ain’t got it: his extreme, toxic agenda of banning abortion, slashing Social Security, and promoting political violence is repelling donors and doing exactly *nothing* to earn support from the voters who will decide this election.”

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