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Friday, June 24, 2016

Orange is the new broke

When Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign he bragged that because was worth “$10 billion” he would not have to concern himself with raising money and could self-finance his campaign. 

Thanks to his weak competition in the Republican primary, Trump did not have to spend much to get an advantage over rival campaigns and Super PACs, but in the general election it is unlikely that Trump can get by simply based on tweets and bombast as he did with Bush, Cruz, and Rubio.

On Monday night Trump filed his finance report with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the failure of his campaign to bring in money is nothing less than amazing.

In May of 2016, Trump only raised $3.1 million from contributors and loaned his campaign an additional $2.2 million. At the end of the month the campaign only had a shocking $1.3 million dollars in cash on hand.

As journalists quickly pointed out, Trump’s fundraising more likely resembled a House member with “a semi-competitive seat” or “a safe Senate seat in a deep red state.” The numbers are definitely not the sort of figures associated with a national presidential campaign.

The results look even worse compared to Hillary Clinton. At the end of May, her campaign had $42 million on hand, an amazing disparity of $40 million between the two campaigns.

And while donors have said they are still unable to determine which Super PAC to donate to in order to support Trump, the Super PAC backing Clinton, Priorities USA, had its biggest month ever with $12 million in donations.

Even compared to fellow Republicans, Trump’s numbers are pathetic. In May of 2012, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and the Republican Party raised $78 million dollars. The current GOP only raised $12 million this May.

Defunct campaigns like Ben Carson’s currently have $7.4 million on hand, more than Trump’s active campaign.

Is This Another Trump Scam?

There are also some weird expenditures from the Trump campaign found in the FEC reports. He appears to be redirecting some money back towards himself.

His campaign paid $423,371 for the use of Trump’s own house the Mar-A-Lago mansion and club in Florida.

Even stranger, Trump seems to be drawing a salary from his campaign, a very unusual arrangement especially for someone claiming to be a “billionaire.” The filings find that Trump is regularly being paid $2,574 as part of “payroll” for the campaign.

Author Oliver Willis was one of the first political bloggers in the world (since 2000), and was among the first bloggers to interview President Obama at the White House. I am on Twitter @owillis and write at