WASHINGTON ― Donald Trump has reportedly ceased raising money for the big dollar committee linking his campaign to the official Republican Party. This surprising move comes as Trump staggers to the election finish line. Even worse for Trump is that he has built essentially no campaign infrastructure to help get out the vote during the early voting period and on Election Day.
The large contributions he was raising through Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee sharing money with the Republican National Committee, was supposed to finance the party infrastructure to help turn out Republican voters to the polls. Trump also raised party money through a small donor committee called Trump Make America Great Again.
Presidential campaigns are supposed to provide a flush of cash for the party. But Trump’s effort has raised significantly less than previous Republican candidates even though he has been able to collect much larger checks. That has left the RNC in the worst financial shape it has been in at this point in a presidential election since the turn of the millennium.
Overall, Trump’s fundraising committees had transferred $58.8 million to the RNC by the end of September. That is less than half of the $125 million Mitt Romney’s fundraising committee raised for the RNC at the same point in 2012. It is comparable to the $57.8 million raised by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for the RNC through September during his 2008 presidential campaign.
Republican National Committee Fundraising (2004-2016)
The RNC has raised just $271 million through September, including the money brought in by Trump. This is the lowest amount the party has had at this point since the passage of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law instituted higher contribution limits and banned party soft money. It is lower than the $332 million raised in 2012, the $310 million raised in 2008 and the $306 million raised in 2004 ― and that’s before adjusting for inflation.
In fact, the totals raised by the RNC and by Trump for the RNC are actually inflated by special accounts that cannot be used on the actual campaign. In 2014, Republicans in Congress slipped a provision into the lame duck omnibus budget bill that created new accounts for political parties and expanded contribution limits. This provision created two separate party accounts, one for convention expenses and the second for headquarters expenses. These accounts could receive contributions totaling $100,200 from a single donor ― far above the $33,400 total that donors are limited to giving to the party’s general election fund. This change also extended the higher $100,200 contribution limit to the pre-existing separate legal account.
This change meant that a single donor could make a $334,000 contribution to the RNC each year. You would think that the ability to raise such bloated checks would actually increase the amount the RNC would raise in 2016, but it clearly has not. The RNC has raised $53.6 million for these separate accounts. This leaves just $217 million available to be freely spent on election activities.
The RNC now has little help coming. Trump campaign finance director Steven Mnuchin told The Washington Post on Tuesday, “We’ve kind of wound down.”
Mnuchin added that Trump’s fundraising schedule had ended for the election and he would now focus solely on political activities.
On Wednesday, with less than two weeks before the election, Trump flew into Washington, D.C., to officially christen his company’s new hotel. The campaign said it was a non-campaign stop.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.