Trump Leans on Small Group of Rich Donors to Fund Campaign

Donald Trump speaks to the media after arriving in Atlanta on April 10 for a campaign fundraiser. (Megan Varner/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg News/TNS) — Donald Trump relied on a small cadre of wealthy donors to contribute $23.6 million, about one-third of amount he and the Republican Party raised in March, according to the latest disclosures to the U.S. Federal Election Commission.

Real estate and aerospace entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren and Linda McMahon, who was Trump’s pick to lead the Small Business Administration when he was president, were among those who gave more than $800,000 each to support him and the party, the disclosures showed.

Even with the surge in donations to the GOP, President Joe Biden has a wide financial advantage. He’s amassed a record war chest for this point in an election year. Outside groups supporting Biden, led by his main super political action committee, the Future Forward PAC, have now pledged $1 billion to support him. 

Trump, whose criminal trial started Monday for allegedly falsifying business records related to payments made to silencing damaging information during the 2016 campaign, is also raising money for Save America — the leadership PAC that’s been paying his legal fees. 

National and state parties, as well as some super PACs and the joint fundraising committees of both candidates, which can raise money in six-figure chunks for their campaigns, filed their quarterly reports to the Federal Election Commission. Here’s how they stack up:

Donald Trump

— Trump and the RNC raised $65.6 million in March, ending the month with $93.1 million in the bank.

— His designated super PAC will report fundraising totals to the FEC on Saturday.

Trump’s first big haul of the election cycle came in late March after he secured the GOP nomination and could start accepting checks of up to $824,600 per donor. The money, raised by Trump 47 Committee, is divided among his campaign, Save America, the leadership PAC that pays his legal bills, the RNC and state parties. His campaign got $178,000 in March, while the RNC got $10.4 million. 

Billionaire John Paulson, former Renaissance Technologies co-president and co-CEO Robert Mercer, Harold Hamm of Continental Resources, and Scott Bessent of Key Square Capital Management were among the donors writing big checks to the Trump 47 Committee, which the GOP nominee took over in mid-March. There were 73 donors in all, with some giving $1,000 or less. 

Trump also had small-dollar donor support. Trump Save America raised $65.8 million in the first quarter, with $33.6 million of that coming from contributors who gave less than $200. 

Still to be disclosed are the results of some big-dollar fundraisers. An event in Palm Beach, Florida, hosted by Paulson on April 6, was said to have generated $50.5 million for Trump. Four days later, Home Depot Inc. co-founder Bernie Marcus, former Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler and her husband, New York Stock Exchange Chairman Jeffrey Sprecher, hosted an event in Atlanta for Trump’s presidential bid. 

Joe Biden

— Biden and the Democratic Party raised $90 million in March and ended the month with $192 million on hand.

— Biden’s main allied super PAC, Future Forward PAC, had yet to file its quarterly report.

Biden’s reelection effort has amassed more than twice as much as Trump and the RNC have — a record amount for a Democratic nominee at this point in the election cycle. 

His haul includes $26 million the campaign raised at an event last month in New York City that also featured former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Small-dollar donors helped too. In March, the campaign broke the grassroots fundraising records it set for the fifth consecutive month. 

Biden’s joint fundraising committees have yet to report detailed information on their donors to the FEC.

Democracy PAC

George Soros’ super PAC raised $60 million in the first quarter, all of it donated in January by a nonprofit founded and funded by the billionaire hedge fund manager. The super PAC distributed $21 million to super PACs, including $4 million donations to both the House Majority PAC and the Senate Majority PAC, which support congressional Democrats. It ended March with $39 million in the bank.

Senate Leadership Fund

The super PAC linked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell raised $27 million and ended the first quarter with $60 million cash on hand. Citadel’s Ken Griffin gave it $7.5 million, while energy-industry companies and executives gave millions more. Occidental Petroleum Corp. gave $2 million; Chevron Corp. and Trevor Rees-Jones, the billionaire owner of Chief Oil & Gas LLC, each gave $1 million; and the American Petroleum Institute gave $1.5 million. Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz gave $250,000.

Restoration PAC 

Uline Inc. co-founder Richard Uihlein gave $2.4 million to his super PAC, while a political nonprofit he supports, Restoration of America, provided $731,000 of in-kind services including staff time, benefits and insurance. Restoration PAC, which spent $15.8 million attacking Biden in 2020, has yet to spend money to influence an election in 2024. It ended March with $3.6 million cash on hand.

American Patriots PAC

The super PAC, which supports House Republicans, raised $6.1 million in the first quarter, with $5 million coming from Griffin and $1 million from hedge fund manager Paul Singer. American Patriots ended March with $7.5 million cash on hand. 

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