Trump raises over $100M for re-election bid
President Donald Trump’s re-election effort raised $18 million in the third quarter, bringing his total since taking office to $108.1 million, an unusual amount for a president in the first two years of his term.
The sum included contributions to his main campaign fund and a pair of joint fundraising committees that benefit it and the Republican National Committee, Federal Election Commission disclosures filed Monday night showed. The campaign started October with $35.4 million cash on hand. Small-dollar donors, those giving $200 or less, accounted for 97.6 percent of the money raised, the campaign said.
In 2018, Trump has raised $55.9 million through his committees, FEC filings show. His combined third quarter take was slightly larger than the $17.7 million his three committees brought in during the previous filing period. As the midterms congressional elections approach, the campaign also has stepped up its spending to $7.7 million, more than twice what it spent in the second quarter.
American Made Media Consultants LLC was the biggest vendor, receiving $1.6 million for online advertising, digital consulting and video production services. The company was incorporated in Delaware in April. Campaign officials set up the company to save money, including commissions that outside vendors typically charge political campaigns, according to a report in the New York Times.
Billionaire investor Peter Thiel gave $25,000 to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee that raises money from big donors. Thiel, who has been largely silent for the past year on issues relating to Trump and his performance, was once among the most vocal of his supporters.
The president has used frequent fundraising texts and emails to his supporters to rally his base throughout his White House tenure. By contrast, former President Barack Obama had been in office more than two years before he headlined his first re-election fundraiser. Former President George W. Bush raised just $268,423 during his first two years in office, FEC records show.
The two parties and their allies also are furiously raising and spending money as the 2018 campaign for control of Congress enters its final weeks. Democrats are threatening to overturn the Republican majority in the House, while Republicans are positioned to hold on to control in the Senate. The election will determine whether Trump can continue to push his agenda, or be challenged by additional congressional investigations.
Some super political action committees, as well as all House and Senate candidates, were required to report by midnight their fundraising and spending for July, August and September. The reports showed Republican Senate candidates in Florida and Indiana making their campaigns multimillion-dollar loans to bolster their home-stretch spending.
Billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, delivered $20 million to help Republicans try to hold the U.S. House in the Nov. 6 election, adding to the more than $55 million they previously gave to bolster the GOP’s midterm campaign efforts.
The Las Vegas Sands Corp. chairman and chief executive officer and his wife were among the big-dollar donors who lavished millions on political committees during the third quarter ahead of the first major political test of Trump’s presidency, the FEC disclosures showed.
The mega donation from the Adelsons went to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super political action committee aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan. The latest contributions followed previous donations of $30 million to the CLF and $25 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, another super-PAC.
CLF, the largest-spending political group this cycle, reported having $35.7 million in the bank at the start of October, after raising $25.5 million and spending $51.5 million from Aug. 28 through Sept. 30. Other top contributions to the group included $2.65 million from Chevron Corp.
The Adelsons also gave $2 million to ESAFUND, a super-PAC that’s part of a group of organizations funded by TD Ameritrade Holding Co. founder Joe Ricketts. The group had $2.1 million in the bank at the start of October, after spending $1 million to oppose Democrat Beto O’Rourke in the Texas Senate race.
The couple gave $82.5 million to conservative causes and candidates in the 2015-16 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That ranked them second in the U.S. for individual donors, behind liberal billionaire Tom Steyer, for that cycle.
Win Justice, a super-PAC that has backed Democratic Senate candidates in Florida and Nevada, got $2 million from billionaire George Soros and $1 million from hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman of Paloma Partners Management Co. Film producer Steven Spielberg gave $50,000. The group raised $3.7 million, spent $4.1 million, and ended the quarter with $1.8 million in cash on hand.
Below are some of the fundraising totals from Senate races rated as tossups by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report:
Republican Representative Martha McSally reported raising $4.9 million during the quarter and having $3.3 million in the bank. Democratic Representative Kyrsten Sinema raised $5.3 million and started October with $2.1 million.
Florida Governor Rick Scott started the month with $2 million in the bank in his contest against Democrat incumbent Senator Bill Nelson, but the close Trump ally has the deep pockets necessary to keep his campaign well-funded. He raised $23.5 million, including $18.3 million he contributed himself.
Scott, who served as vice chairman of Columbia Hospital Corp. before entering politics, has put $38.9 million of his own money into his Senate campaign so far. The New Republican PAC, which also supports him, raised $7 million, spent $7.2 million and started October with $4.1 million in the bank. Billionaire Ken Griffin, founder of hedge fund Citadel LLC, gave the super-PAC $2.5 million.
Nelson started October with $8.6 million in the bank, after raising $5.3 million from Aug. 9 to Sept. 30, the same period that Scott’s report covers. Nelson’s campaign spent $11.3 million, compared to $24.9 million for Scott.
The contest was ranked the most expensive so far at $76.5 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, though that figure does not include the most recent candidate filings. That’s still far off the record $179.5 million spent in the 2016 Pennsylvania Senate contest in which Republican Pat Toomey defeated Democratic challenger Katie McGinty.
Republican Mike Braun reported raising $5.6 million in the quarter – including almost $2.4 million in loans from himself – and had $1.9 million in the bank for his challenge of incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly, who reported raising almost $3.1 million and starting October with $4.5 million cash on hand.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley reported raising $3.2 million and having $3.5 million in the bank at the start of October for his challenge against Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who listed receipts of $7.8 million and cash on hand of $3.2 million.
Incumbent Jon Tester raised $3.8 million, almost twice as much as challenger Matt Rosendale, the state auditor and a self-proclaimed Trump Republican. Tester ended the third quarter with $1.8 million cash on hand compared to $622,181 for Rosendale.
Outside groups have poured more money into the race than the two candidates have raised, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee spending $3.4 million to help Rosendale, and End Citizens United, a political action committee whose donors can give a maximum of $5,000 a year, spending $2 million to help Tester. Overall, party committees, PACs, super-PACs and nonprofits have spent $23.9 million on the race.
Democratic Representative Jacky Rosen raised $7.1 million and started October with $2.6 million for her bid to unseat Republican Senator Dean Heller. The incumbent, who is viewed as one of the most vulnerable GOP senators, raised $2.2 million and had $2.7 million in the bank.
Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, among the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents, raised $3.8 million and ended the quarter with $3.2 million. Republican Representative Kevin Cramer raised almost $1.7 million and had $1.2 million in the bank.
Former Governor Phil Bredesen reported raising $6.3 million and starting October with $3.2 million for his Democratic campaign. Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn raised $3.5 million and had $5 million in the bank.
Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke reported raising $38.1 million – a record for a quarterly total for a Senate candidate – in his bid to topple Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. O’Rourke spent $29.2 million during the quarter and started October with $22.9 million in the bank. Cruz raised $11.6 million, spent $9.6 million and had $11.3 million in the bank.