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Trump’s committees spent heavily on legal defense in 2023: Financial strain threatens 2024 campaign viability


Florida – Former President Donald Trump’s campaign recently reported a major fundraising success, collecting $50.5 million during a Saturday event in Florida. This amount is aimed at narrowing the financial gap with President Joe Biden’s campaign, which currently enjoys a significant monetary lead. Despite this financial boost, the latter half of 2023 saw Trump’s fundraising committees spend a staggering $29 million on legal fees and consulting, as revealed by recent federal election filings. These expenses are part of a broader narrative where Trump’s political action committees spent heavily on legal defenses, even as fundraising efforts showed signs of strain.

Federal filings disclose that “Save America,” Trump’s main joint fundraising committee with his campaign, spent over $25 million on legal fees, while the Make America Great Again PAC shelled out close to $4 million. When combined with the nearly $21 million spent in the first half of the year, the total expenditure on legal fees by Trump’s committees in 2023 reached almost $50 million.

The financial strain is further evidenced by the total expenditures of Trump’s committees, which amounted to roughly $210 million throughout 2023, while they raised just under $200 million. This deficit marks a challenging fiscal period for the former president, particularly as contributions from “small-dollar donors” have notably declined. In 2023, the campaign raised 63% less from donors contributing less than $200 compared to similar efforts in 2019.

As 2024 progresses, the financial burden only seems to intensify. Trump, having secured the GOP nomination, faces 91 felony counts across multiple jurisdictions, including New York City, Washington, D.C., Georgia, and Florida. These legal battles have forced an acceleration in the campaign’s legal spending.

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In contrast, President Joe Biden’s campaign entered 2024 in a significantly stronger financial position, with $117 million on hand after raising over $97 million in the last quarter of 2023. TJ Ducklo, a spokesperson for Biden’s campaign, commented on the situation, stating, “While Donald Trump lights money on fire paying the tab on his various… expenses, Team Biden Harris, powered by grassroots donors, is hard at work talking to the voters who will decide this election and building the campaign infrastructure to win in November.”

Controversial Expenses and Campaign Strategies

The financial woes for Trump’s fundraising entities were exacerbated by the high costs of legal defense. Save America, for instance, nearly exhausted its funds last year due to overwhelming legal fees. This super PAC not only covered Trump’s legal defenses but also provided for aides embroiled in legal troubles, such as Walt Nauta and Carlos de Oliveira, both implicated in the classified documents case post-Trump’s presidency.

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Furthermore, ten percent of every dollar raised from Trump’s supporters went to Save America, primarily to defray legal expenses. Among these expenditures, some have attracted particular scrutiny. Herve Pierre Braillard, Melania Trump’s stylist, was paid over $371,000 by the former president’s Super PACs since April 2022. These payments were categorized under “Strategy Consulting,” which included eight installments of $18,000 and one of $6,000 totaling $132,000. In defense, Melania’s office described Braillard as a “world-renowned artist,” stating that his skills were employed in “special projects and events,” beyond his fashion expertise.

As the legal and financial stakes continue to rise for Trump heading into the 2024 presidential election, the sustainability of his campaign’s fiscal strategy remains under significant scrutiny. The ongoing legal battles and the associated costs are setting the stage for a challenging campaign season, reflecting the complex interplay between legal repercussions and political campaigning.

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