Donations to Donald Trump’s campaign operation surged to $20 million during the first three months of the year, new campaign finance filings show, in the wake of Republicans’ December victory in passing sweeping tax reform legislation.
The total haul for Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign and two groups that let him raise money alongside the Republican National Committee was up nearly $8 million, or 65 percent, from the operation’s fundraising in the previous quarter, which covered the end of 2017.
Trump’s campaign alone raised $10 million in the first quarter of 2018, and he had amassed a total of $28 million in his campaign account at the start of April, with more than two years to go before he is on the ballot in November 2020.
It’s an unusual amount of money for a president to have stockpiled at this point in his term: Trump filed for reelection shortly after entering the White House, earlier than any other U.S. president, and frequently flies around the country for campaign-style rallies with supporters and local candidates.
Trump’s large campaign operation accrues significant costs: the campaign and the two joint fundraising committees together spent more than $650,000 on hats, mugs and other pro-Trump gear for supporters during the first three months of the year.
The Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee focused on small-dollar fundraising, spent $2.2 million soliciting fundraising via direct mail to supporters, an expensive means of raising money.
Trump’s campaign also paid $150,000 to the president’s businesses during the first three months of the year. It paid $68,000 to the Trump International Hotel for event spaces and catering and $38,000 to Trump Tower for rent.
Trump has officially handed over the running of his businesses to his two older sons while he is in the White House, but he maintains his ownership of the Trump Organization.
Trump’s campaign spent more than $800,000 on legal fees during the first three months of the year, similar to other recent fundraising quarters. Both Trump’s campaign and the RNC have in the last year acknowledged spending money on lawyers associated with the probes into Russia’s role in the 2016 elections, as well as legal bills affiliated with the 2016 elections and other ongoing issues. It’s allowable for the campaign to pay legal fees so long as the expenses are incurred from aspects of the investigation related to the campaign.
Several high-profile donors cut checks to Trump’s campaign operation during the first three months of this year. Among them: slot machine magnates Craig and Patricia Estey of Nevada, who each gave $250,000 to one of Trump’s joint fundraising committees. Illinois-based Elizabeth Uihlein, who runs the Uline company with her husband Richard Uihlein, also gave $250,000 to one of Trump’s joint fundraising committees.