WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump is facing a cash crunch as he tries to defend himself in court, try to seal the Republican nomination and move toward a general election rematch with President Joe Biden, who is increasingly pouring in money.
Campaign finance records filed Wednesday show MAGA Inc., the main super PAC supporting Trump’s campaign, spent more than it raised in the last six months of 2023 — primarily by transferring $30 million back to Save America First. the primary vehicle for paying the former president’s prodigious legal fees. Similarly, Trump’s official campaign spent more money than it took in in the last three months of the year.
By comparison, Biden’s campaign ended the year with $46 million in cash, far more than Trump’s $33 million before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries. Future Forward, Biden’s main super PAC backing, had $24 million to $23.3 million in the bank at the end of the year, slightly more than MAGA Inc.
Democrats said Tuesday that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were raising money for campaign purposes rather than a legal fight.
“Even as Donald Trump burns through money paying his various expenses, Team Biden-Harris, supported by local donors, is working hard to talk to the voters who will decide this election and build the campaign infrastructure to win in November. Biden campaign spokesman TJ Ducklo said in a statement.
Of course, Trump’s legal problems have been a boon for him in the Republican primaries, rallying GOP voters to his cause as he accuses Biden, without any evidence, of using the Justice Department to target him and derail his campaign.
So Trump is building on the allegations he faces as a key part of his strategy to defeat Biden in November. They have proven instrumental in raising money and sending Republican challengers.
Trump raised $4.2 million online the same day Trump’s miracle aired in August after his arrest in the Georgia election meddling case, according to a fundraising report released Wednesday by WinRed, the GOP’s main online fundraising platform. It was Trump’s most-tweeted game in a single day last year.
Trump will now hope that his legal woes will energize the general election-bound GOP and help him convince gullible voters to unseat Biden.
Trump continues to be a master at small-dollar fundraising. While 18 percent of Biden’s earnings in the fourth quarter came from donors who gave the maximum amount to his campaign, only 6 percent of Trump’s money came from donors who gave the $6,600 limit.
That means Trump is still in a good position to go back to the well to get more contributions from donors than he can legally give.
Spokesmen for Trump and MAGA Inc. did not respond to NBC News’ requests for comment on the campaign finance filings Wednesday night.
Both candidates expanded their operations in the last quarter of the year as fledgling campaigns began to move from their starting size to more powerful general election machines. According to his statements about the election campaign, Trump had 78 people, and Biden had 74 people.
Inside Trump’s numbers
MAGA Inc., which can legally accept unlimited donations as a Super PAC. raised $47.8 million from July 1 to December 31, including $10 million in contributions from Timothy Mellon. was also a supporter More than $5 million from Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential ambitions and former Trump administration cabinet official Linda McMahon.
But the super PAC spent $55.4 million during the same period, leaving him with $23.3 million in the bank at the end of the year. Save America and the resulting $30 million in transfers to Trump’s lawyers are nearly 50 percent more than the $20.4 million he paid for ads in the last six months of 2023, according to an NBC News analysis of campaign finance reports on Wednesday. .
Trump’s campaign took in $19.1 million from October to December — less than 60 percent of the Biden campaign’s haul of $33 million — and spent $23.6 million.
The campaign spent $97,000 of that on facility rentals and catering at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. The big-ticket items were $7.6 million for advertising, $3.7 million for legal advice, $1.7 million each for air travel and staging events, and $1.6 million for salaries, according to an NBC News analysis. .
Because the filings only go back to the end of last year, it’s impossible to know how much money Trump has raised and spent in a month since then. But he has added a number of high-dollar fundraising events to his calendar in recent days, including this week near his Palm Beach, Fla., home and, according to an invitee, next month at his Mar-a-Lago resort. .
Inside Biden’s numbers
Without a serious primary challenger, Biden was able to focus his money on talking to voters about himself and Trump. Minnesota Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips, the party’s long-shot presidential candidate, loaned $4 million to his campaign last quarter and raised another $1 million from donors.
Biden spent $19.3 million in the last quarter of the year, of which about $12 million was directed to the development and placement of advertisements. Combine that with $2 million to deliver a text message to voters, and communications dominated Biden’s spending.
Aside from those costs, his biggest expenses were wages and payroll taxes, which together totaled about $3 million.
As an advantage of the position, Biden was able to coordinate fundraising with his national party throughout the campaign season. The Democratic National Committee recently reported that it had $21 million on hand earlier this year, and major donors are also funneling money into state Democratic Party accounts through a fundraiser for the Biden campaign.
With the primary on the GOP side, Trump was similarly unable to use the Republican National Committee, which ended the year with $8 million in the bank, as an arm of his campaign. Although Ronna McDaniel is the party chair, the RNC is initially officially neutral recently called on the GOP to unite around Trump, described him as “the last candidate”.