Experts say Trump could even use some of the money he's raising to fund his recount efforts to pay himself a salary later.
Donald Trump's operation has raised $207.5 million since his election defeat for a fund with money that could directly benefit himself.
Between Nov. 3 and Dec. 3, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee received the more than $200 million largely from bombarding donors with unfounded claims of election fraud, blasting them with misleading messages to "save America" from a stolen election by funding last-minute recount bids.
Just days after Election Day, Trump created the "Save America" PAC. His campaign's website sought donations for the "Official Election Defense Fund," which included a disclaimer now saying 75% of donations would go to the PAC and 25% would go to the RNC. Only contributions of more than $5,000 would be put toward his recount efforts.
Initial disclaimers stated only 60% would go to the "Save America PAC," 40% to the RNC, and contributions over $6,000 would go to the election defense fund.
That means just a fraction of the donated money will likely be put toward any recount efforts, with the vast majority funneled to Trump's PAC.
As Brendan Fischer, director of the Campaign Legal Center's federal reform program, told Politico, "Trump could potentially use his new leadership PAC to not only preserve his influence within the Republican party after he leaves the White House, but also to potentially to benefit him and his family financially.”
Leadership PACs like the one Trump created, he explained, "can be used to effectively keep your campaign staff on the payroll, keep them in your orbit, pay for travel, pay for rallies, even for polling."
The "Save America" PAC could pay Trump a salary too, the Washington Post noted, adding that it could also fund Trump's golf club memberships.
"The money in the Save America PAC, unlike money contributed to a standard campaign committee, can be used to benefit Trump in innumerable ways. Memberships at golf clubs. Travel. Rallies. Even payments directly to Trump himself, as long as he declares it as income," the Post explained.
Lawrence Noble, former general counsel to the Federal Election Commission, explained the difference further.
"With a candidate committee, there is a personal-use prohibition. So they cannot use money in a candidate committee for anyone’s personal use: They can't pay exorbitant salaries, they can't give gifts to people," he told the outlet. "If you're talking about a leadership PAC or an independent expenditure PAC ... there's no prohibition on how they use the money."
Trump's post-election cash grab appears to be part of a pattern of devising ways to enrich or benefit financially either himself and his family.
Amid the pandemic, for instance, companies paying rent at properties belonging to both Trump and Jared Kushner, Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, were granted some $3.65 million-worth of taxpayer-funded Paycheck Protection Program loans.
According to NBC News, of the companies that received loans, "15 of the businesses self-reported that they only kept one job, zero jobs or did not report a number at all."
"The loans to businesses located at Trump and Kushner properties included a $2,164,543 loan to the Triomphe Restaurant Corp., at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City," the outlet reported on Wednesday. "The company reported the money didn’t go to keeping any jobs. It later closed."
Taxpayers have also reportedly been forced to foot the bill for the Trump family's business trips, Donald Trump Jr.'s hunting excursion, and campaign rally expenses, as well as other personal-related expenses.
More than $142 million of taxpayer money has been spent so far for Trump's nearly 146 golfing trips, most of those outings benefiting his own Trump Organization-branded resorts, according to Trump Golf Count.
The website also details that approximately $59,110,000 has been spent on Air Force One flights to Mar-a-Lago alone, with an additional $29,972,000 in security costs to protect the resort while Trump is staying there.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.