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Small donor Trump supporters gave cash to ‘Stop the steal’ but only fraction went to legal battle

Federal Election Commission filings show Trump campaign spent $10m on legal costs, about 20 per cent of what was spent on ads and further fundraising

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
@GustafKilander
Monday 01 February 2021 22:25
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Former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party managed to raise more than $175m during November and December, pushing donors to give up their cash to help "stop the steal," the baseless conspiracy theory that Mr Trump lost the election because of widespread voter fraud. But only $10m was spent on legal costs trying to challenge election procedures and results.

Campaign finance reports filed on Sunday shows that the largest bill of Mr Trump's campaign during the month of December was for buying ads; the company that bought Mr Trump's TV ads was paid just under $5m. Another $4.4m was spent on online ads, according to The New York Times.

The Republican National Committee ended up with over $80m in the bank after it got 25 cents for every dollar Mr Trump raised online. The RNC also didn't spend any large share of their donations on legal costs.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, the $10m the Trump campaign did spend on legal costs was about 20 per cent of what was spent on ads and further fundraising. At year's end, Mr Trump's political action committee had $31m. But that's not all of the available funds. In shared accounts between the RNC and Mr Trump's PAC, there's another $63m. Of those funds, the Trump PAC is entitled to 75 per cent, The New York Times reports.

With most of the donations coming from smaller donors, Mr Trump and the RNC raised around $5m more than Georgia Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue combined, who both lost their 5 January runoffs. The opposite was true on the Democratic side of the races that gave Democrats control of the Senate

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New York Times political reporter Shane Goldmacher tweeted:

The legal work totalling around $10m was done by over a dozen firms like Kasowitz Benson Torres, who were paid $1.6 million, Jones Day, which was paid over half a million, and Dechert, which received around $600,000. Kurt Hilbert's law firm was on the call in which Mr Trump tried to get Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" just enough votes to overturn the Georgia presidential results in Mr Trump's favour. The firm was paid over $480,000. The Wisconsin election commission was paid $3m to conduct a recount, which ended up adding 87 votes to President Joe Biden's column. He won the state by just over 20,000 votes.

Mr Trump has spent both campaign money and taxpayer dollars at his own properties ever since first becoming a candidate in 2015. The donations were used in a similar fashion in late 2020. The Trump Hotel Collection received $34,000 from the Trump victory committee according to the last filing of the year.

Rudy Giuliani's firm received $63,423 for travel expenses. American Made Media Consultants was paid millions for online and text message ads. The company spent more than $700m during the 2020 campaign and Trump family members and Vice President Mike Pence sat on the board.  

American Made Media Consultants is a limited liability company, which is a US business structure in which a company's owner is not directly responsible for the company's debts and obligations.

Another limited liability company owned by Mr Trump, DT Endeavor, which manages a private plane, was paid $39,200 on 24 November. Yet another campaign committee paid rent to Trump Tower to the tune of $75,000.

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