Trump's New RNC Deal Is Paying His Legal Bills

Agreement reportedly directs money to campaign, PAC that pays his legal fees before RNC gets a cut
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 22, 2024 6:39 AM CDT
Trump's RNC Deal Has PAC Pay His Legal Fees First
Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on Saturday in Vandalia, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Jeff Dean, File)

Donald Trump's new joint fundraising agreement with the Republican National Committee directs donations to his campaign and a political action committee that pays the former president's legal bills before the RNC gets a cut, per a fundraising invitation obtained by the AP. The unorthodox diversion of funds to the Save America PAC makes it more likely that Republican donors could see their money go to Trump's lawyers, who've received at least $76 million over the last two years to defend him against four felony indictments and multiple civil cases. Some Republicans are already worried that Trump's takeover of the RNC, now co-chaired by his daughter-in-law Lara Trump, could shortchange the cash-strapped party.

  • The invite: Trump has summoned high-dollar donors to Palm Beach, Florida, for an April 6 fundraiser that comes as his fundraising is well behind President Biden and national Democrats. The invitation's fine print says donations to the Trump 47 Committee will first be used to give the maximum amount allowed under federal law to Trump's campaign. Anything left from the donation next goes toward a maximum contribution to Save America, then to the RNC, then to state political parties.

  • Big bucks: Trump effectively controls the RNC, and his political operation can now take advantage of the far higher contribution limits that apply to party committees. While candidates can accept a maximum donation of $3,300, under the joint fundraising agreement, a single donor could sign a check for just over $800,000, while a couple could contribute $1.6 million.
  • Fine print: Any donor who wishes can direct their contribution to be distributed differently. Donors can also give directly to the RNC or any other entity.
  • Not typical: Adav Noti, executive director of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, said this is a break from fundraising norms: "No other candidate has used a leadership PAC the way the Trump campaign has."
  • Trump camp: His campaign notes that Save America spends on expenses other than legal fees, and that donors to the April fundraiser who contribute the suggested $814,600 per person will only see $5,000 of their donation go to Save America, sending hundreds of thousands to the RNC.
  • Reversal? Shortly before the RNC leadership change this month, Lara Trump's co-chair, Chris LaCivita, told the AP that "not a penny of the RNC's money or, for that matter, the campaign's money has gone or will go to pay legal fees."
(More Donald Trump stories.)

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