Former President Donald Trump announced his 2024 presidential bid on Tuesday, just one week after several Republican nominees he endorsed in the 2022 midterms including U.S. Senate candidates in Pennsylvania and Arizona underperformed in the general election.
Trump formed a new campaign committee – Donald J. Trump for President 2024 – that will serve as the primary fundraising vehicle for his presidential bid, adding a new node to his sprawling political operation that already includes his leadership PAC, three joint fundraising committees, a PAC and four super PACs controlled by close Trump allies.
That political operation has raised more than $500 million since the 2020 presidential election and funneled millions of dollars from donors to cover legal bills or into the coffers of Jan. 6 rally organizers, OpenSecrets previously reported.
But most of the $111.7 million Trump’s political operation reported on hand as of Oct. 19 won’t be available to his reelection campaign.
Trump’s federal campaign will be unable to tap into the $98.2 million in his leadership PAC, Save America, and affiliated super PACs. Included in that total is $1.1 million in MAGA PAC, a traditional PAC that was converted from Trump’s former campaign. Because of federal contribution limits, MAGA PAC can contribute only up to $5,000 each to his primary and general election campaigns.
Save America – which accounts for more than $69.7 million of his political operation’s total cash on hand – has been Trump’s main fundraising vehicle since he launched the leadership PAC six days after the 2020 election. But it legally cannot be converted into a campaign account.
The former president will only be able to access about $13.5 million available in his joint fundraising committees. The statement of candidacy filed on Nov. 15 with the Federal Election Commission lists his Save America joint fundraising committee as an affiliated committee. The joint fundraising committee reported $6.3 million cash on hand as of Sept. 30.
Save America JFC will continue to raise funds that will be split between Trump’s new campaign committee and his Save America leadership PAC at a ratio of 99-to-1, according to his campaign website.
In addition to Save America JFC, the former president maintains a small-dollar joint fundraising committee, Trump Make America Great Again, and a high-dollar joint fundraising committee, Trump Victory.
Trump MAGA has not reported raising any money since June 2021. Trump Victory focused on large contributions in conjunction with the Republican National Committee, which won’t ramp up again unless Trump wins the GOP nomination in 2024.
There have already been several big transfers reported between these committees, meaning the fundraising landscape for these committees could shift when post-general and year-end reports come in.
Trump has alleged tried to skirt “extremely complicated and unbelievably stupid” federal campaign finance law
While Trump proved to be a prodigious fundraiser, raising an inflation-adjusted $881.9 million during the 2020 election cycle, $97.1 million is a lot of money to leave on the table. His political operation has made several large transfers from Save America to affiliated committees, one of which prompted a complaint from one watchdog to the Federal Election Commission on Monday.
Trump and Save America violated the “soft money” provision in federal campaign finance law when they transferred the money from his leadership PAC to the super PAC Make America Great Again Inc., Campaign Legal Center alleged in a complaint to the Federal Election Commission on Monday.
The watchdog argued Trump has signaled for over a year that he intended to run for president but avoided directly saying so to avoid fundraising laws restricting contributions to federal candidates.
On Oct. 3, the leadership PAC Save America transferred $20 million to MAGA Inc., a super PAC founded by close Trump allies that reportedly plans to support Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign. This effectively means money previously locked up in his leadership PAC can indirectly benefit him through outside spending boosting his campaign, although the super PAC cannot legally coordinate spending with Trump’s campaign.
MAGA Inc. has by far the most money of any super PAC affiliated with Trump’s political orbit as of Oct. 19. The $20 million transfer accounts for most of the $32.1 million MAGA Inc. has reported raising since it filed a statement of organization with the FEC on Sept. 23. It’s also the largest contribution reported from Trump or one of his political committees to MAGA Inc.
In a Fox News interview in August 2021, Trump said he was “actually not allowed to answer” when asked if he was running for president in 2024 because “it makes it very difficult if I do,” adding “campaign finance laws are extremely complicated and unbelievably stupid.”
Campaign Legal Center’s complaint goes beyond mens rea. Trump convened several private dinners with such donors and supporters “hosted by Save America, Trump’s leadership PAC,” POLITICO reported in July. Four attendees told POLITICO that Trump discussed his 2024 election plan and when he should officially launch his federal campaign.
Although Trump had not yet filed a Statement of Candidacy, federal law states an individual becomes a candidate if they receive or spend more than $5,000. Campaign Legal Center alleges these dinners “clearly” exceeded the $5,000 threshold in support of Trump’s presidential campaign.
“Former President Trump made it clear months ago, through his statements and actions, that he was running for president again in 2024,” Trevor Potter, president of Campaign Legal Center and a former Republican chairman of the FEC, said in a written statement. “When federal candidates evade campaign finance laws designed to maintain transparency and combat corruption, they undermine our election system and damage voter trust.”
Trump was the first candidate to announce his bid for president in 2024. But at least 20 politicians who have fueled rumors of 2024 presidential ambitions reported raising at least $591 million from affiliated political operations, OpenSecrets reported in September.
Senior Data Analyst Brendan Glavin contributed to this report.