With his formal announcement of a third presidential bid, Donald Trump now will face new limits on raising and spending money ahead of the 2024 election.
But election lawyers and campaign finance experts said loopholes in federal election rules – and lax enforcement by federal regulators of existing laws – still offer the former president several potential routes to capitalize on the massive fundraising operation he and his aides have built since his 2020 loss.
How much money does Trump have?
A lot. Trump’s political operation, led by his leadership PAC Save America, is sitting on more than $100 million, according to the most recent filings with federal regulators.
Save America has been at the heart of Trump’s post-presidential fundraising. Leadership PACs are generally established as a way to allow political figures to support other candidates. But they also serve as campaigns-in-waiting for presidential contenders – funding travel and polling and paying the staff members who ultimately join a White House campaign.
Leadership PACs also can underwrite personal expenses.
Save America, for instance, has spent more than $8.5 million on legal expenses since the start of 2021 – with some of it going to firms defending Trump in personal legal matters, such as the sweeping lawsuit that New York Attorney General Letitia James brought in September, alleging fraud in the Trump Organization’s business practices. Trump has denied wrongdoing.
The former president’s close allies also recently established a super PAC, which can raise and spend unlimited sums but is barred from coordinating its activities with the candidates it supports.
Last month, Save America transferred $20 million to the new Trump-aligned super PAC, MAGA Inc., with the goal of aiding Trump’s favored candidates in the midterms.
Political observers say that transfer might foreshadow one way Save America’s big war chest could benefit Trump’s candidacy in the months ahead.