How Trump’s Money Woes Are Dragging Down the Republican Party | National News

Donald Trump says he has $500 million in cash he planned to use to pay for his presidential campaign and is expecting billions of dollars more after a merger deal announced Friday morning between his social media company and another firm.

But at the same time, Trump’s team is begging for $5 donations online and is hosting an April 6 big-donor fundraiser where the primary beneficiary will be not the Republican National Committee but a political action committee that has been paying the four-times-indicted former president’s legal bills.

The contradictory messages go to the challenges Republicans face with fundraising – and to the moment of truth Trump faces next week, when he is supposed to pay a $454 million judgment (or post a bond to guarantee it) while he appeals the amount he was ordered to pay in a business fraud case in New York.

On the one hand, the legendarily boastful Trump claims he has plenty of cash, saying on social media Friday that “through hard work, talent and luck, I currently have almost five hundred million dollars in cash, a substantial amount of which I intend to use for my campaign for president” – but that the judge who imposed the $454 million ruling deliberately came up with a number to deprive Trump of his ability to pay for his campaign.

That assertion is at odds with what Trump said earlier – that he can’t pay the amount and that no bank or bond company would guarantee the amount for him. If Trump does not come up with the cash or bond next week, Attorney General Letitia James can begin seizing his real estate or other property.

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Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign – and the national Republican Party – are having cash problems of their own.

President Joe Biden’s campaign raised $21.3 million in February – almost twice the $10.9 million Trump’s campaign raised during the same period, according to filing with the Federal Election Commission. The Democrat also has far more cash on hand – $71 million – than Trump, who had $33.3 million at the end of the month.

The Democratic National Committee also outraised its counterpart, with the Democratic group pulling in $16.6 million in February, compared to the $10.7 million the Republican National Committee raised in the same period. The amounts for both parties and candidates do not include money raised by outside groups or coordinated committees on behalf of each candidate. The “coordinated committee” reports come out in April.

For Trump, the personal financial strains are intertwined with the campaign cash crunch. The Trump-supporting Save America PAC, for example, spent $5.6 million in February alone on Trump’s legal bills – money that presumably could otherwise go to pay for campaigning.

And the April 6 fundraiser, to be held by the coordinated committee Trump 47, is dividing the money among the Save America group, the Trump campaign (which is also paying some of the former president’s legal bills), the RNC and local Republican parties.

The arrangement could complicate things for further fundraising. Big donors might be reluctant to contribute money to a Trump or GOP committee if they think it will go to pay Trump’s private legal bills. And the more the RNC is burdened with helping the presidential campaign, the less it has to help down-ticket candidates – crucial in a year when the GOP is in grave danger of losing control of the House and also well-poised to take control of the Senate.

While Trump often had a big fundraising haul after an indictment, “I don’t think that’s going to keep happening,” says Rutgers University political science professor Richard Lau. “The more people start thinking he’s in big trouble,” the more reluctant they will be to fork over cash – especially because “people don’t think he’s going to be able to pay it back,” Lau adds.

Biden – trailing in many national and battleground state polls – has delighted in his rival’s money woes.

“I know not everyone’s feeling enthusiasm. The other day a defeated-looking man came up to me and said, Mr. President, I’m being crushed by debt, I’m completely wiped out,” Biden quipped at a fundraising event in Dallas, where he raised another $2.5 million, this week. “I had to say, ‘I’m sorry Donald, I can’t help you.’”

Money is essential to winning a campaign, but it’s not necessarily true that the candidate with more money wins, says Sarah Bryner of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. “It’s a classic correlation-causation example,” in which it could be that money wins campaigns but also that winning candidates attract more donations, she says.

That being said, having cash on hand matters, Bryner says, noting that the Biden campaign was able to quickly produce and post an attack ad featuring Trump warning of a “bloodbath” if he lost.

An equally important indicator is the number of individual donations, since that number may be tied more to actual votes. According to the CRP, 45% of donations to Biden have come from small ($200 or less) donors, compared to 36% of Trump contributors who are small donors.

Trump may also get a needed cash boost after his social media company, Trump Media, merged Friday with Digital World Acquisition Corporation, giving Trump – on paper – a $3 billion stake.

Trump is not allowed to sell shares or use them as collateral for a loan for six months, though the board could waive that rule. And in the meantime, the Trump camp is looking for financial help.

“I’m humbly asking every pro-Trump patriot if you can chip in just $5?” Team Trump pleaded on social media Friday in a post accompanied by a video pitch by Donald Trump Jr.

“Our campaign isn’t powered by liberal billionaires. It’s powered by grassroots contributors like you,” the post said.

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