GOP members who voted to impeach Trump get flood of donations defying former president’s vow for revenge

Incumbent Republican lawmakers received record donations in first quarter of 2021 as Trump yet to mobilise base for primary challengers

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Sunday 18 April 2021 18:36
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Related video: Liz Cheney on her vote to impeach Trump

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Despite Donald Trump’s vow to drive them from office, the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach the former president for his role in the violent insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January are enjoying a flood of re-election campaign donations.

The latest filings from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) show that the group raised $6.4million collectively in the first quarter of 2021.

Seven of the representatives set personal records for fundraising in a non-election year, and all of the lawmakers out-raised challengers who filed campaign finance reports, Bloomberg reported.

However GOP leaders remain worried that Mr Trump’s pledge to get back at Republicans who voted to charge him with incitement of insurrection may inadvertently scupper attempts to win back control of the House.

By backing challenger campaigns in the 2022 midterms, Mr Trump may weaken incumbents and hinder their goal of overturning the Democrats’ majority in the lower chamber.

Both Tom Emmer, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy say they will support incumbents and are trying to discourage Mr Trump from backing primary challengers.

Currently, there are 15 primary bids against the group with only John Katko of New York remaining unopposed. Together these challengers have raised $1.9m, with 24 per cent of that amount self-financed.

In siding with Democrats in January’s impeachment vote and defying Mr Trump, the incumbent representatives have reaped the rewards of elevated national profiles.

Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, and Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio recorded the largest quarterly donations of their careers. The quarter following an election usually sees only low levels of fundraising.

Overall corporate, leadership, and conservative political action committees gave $1.6m to the House incumbents, compared to only $17,500 for the challengers.

Prosperity Action PAC, started by former House Speaker Paul Ryan, gave to all ten incumbents who voted to impeach. The PAC for Google parent company Alphabet gave to nine of the group.

Notable donors include Kimbal Musk, brother of Elon Musk, who in the past has donated heavily to Democrats including Joe Biden. He gave $2,800 to each of the ten Republicans. A number of other traditionally Democratic donors also made contributions.

Ms Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican, raised the most money and has been supported by key party figures.

This included $10,000 donations from Senator Mitt Romney’s Believe in America PAC; the Republican Jewish Coalition PAC; and $5,000 from PACs led by Mr Ryan, Senators Mitch McConnell, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

The congresswoman’s parents, former vice president Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne, each contributed $5,600.

Mr Trump said in a statement issued on Wednesday through his PAC that he would endorse an opponent to Ms Cheney “soon”.

The former president is discouraging multiple challengers in fear of splitting the primary vote, but four have already stepped forward including two state lawmakers. Their fundraising efforts amount to approximately one-third of Ms Cheney’s haul, in excess of $1.5m.

At this stage, the tightest fundraising race is in Ohio between Mr Gonzalez and Trump-endorsed former White House aide Max Miller.

Mr Miller brought in $508,639 to Mr Gonzalez’s $616,524 — the best fundraising quarter of his political career. Save America, Mr Trump’s PAC, is yet to contribute to Mr Miller, though an adviser claims that it has $80m to spend on political donations.

Beyond the PAC, Mr Trump’s real political clout is in rallying his army of grassroots small-dollar donors, who are yet to contribute. While they donate amounts lower than $200, they contributed to the former president’s campaigns in huge numbers. It is unclear to what extent they will follow his lead going forward.

Emulating the former president, Trump loyalist and conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene set a record by bringing in $3.2m in the first quarter of 2021 — an unheard of amount by an incumbent in a non-election year.

Rep. Greene raised just under 80 per cent of that amount from grassroots donors, mobilised after she was stripped of House committee assignments for making threatening statements against Democrats on social media.

In contrast, the ten incumbents who voted for Mr Trump’s second impeachment raised just 8.8 per cent of their money in this way.

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