Speed Reads

2020 campaign cash

The Trump campaign has blown through its huge cash advantage over Biden, logged some iffy spending

"Money was supposed to have been one of the great advantages of incumbency for President Trump," and when Joe Biden emerged as the "relatively broke" presumptive Democratic nominee in the spring, "Trump and the Republican National Committee had a nearly $200 million cash advantage," The New York Times reports. Five months later, "Trump's financial supremacy has evaporated," and "some people inside the campaign are forecasting what was once unthinkable: a cash crunch with less than 60 days until the election."

The Trump campaign and RNC have spent more than $800 million of the $1.1 billion they raised since 2009, and some of the expenditures seem a little questionable, the Times suggests, drawing from federal campaign filings:

  • $325,000 to the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island near Jacksonville for scrapped RNC convention
  • $156,000 for airplanes to pull Trump banners in recent months
  • "$110,000 to Yondr, a company that makes magnetic pouches used to store cellphones during fund-raisers so that donors could not secretly record Mr. Trump and leak his remarks"
  • $6 million on "donor mementos"
  • Up to $11 million for two Super Bowl ads
  • $1 million on TV ads in the solidly blue Washington, D.C., area, presumably aimed at the "famously voracious television consumer" president
  • "$4 million into the Trump family businesses since 2019"
  • $21 million in extra legal costs since 2019, including on Trump's legal defense and $666,666.67 to Reuters News & Media for unspecified "legal proceedings — IP resolution"
  • $800,000 boosting former campaign manager Brad Parscale's Facebook and Instagram pages to highlight pro-Trump ads.

Parscale, recently demoted to senior adviser, took a lot of flak for the profligate spending.

"The campaign was spending all this money on silly things," and "Brad's businesses kept making money," a senior White House official told New York Magazine last month. "He's just milking the family, basically." Veteran GOP strategist Ed Rollins accused Parscale of spending "like a drunken sailor," telling the Times, "If you spend $800 million and you're 10 points behind, I think you've got to answer the question 'What was the game plan?'"

Parscale told the Times all his spending decisions were "under the very close eye of the family" or "in partnership with Ronna McDaniel," the RNC chairwoman. He called his online donation program a huge success.

Nicholas Everhart, a GOP strategist, said much of the money burn was simply the "peril of starting a re-election campaign just weeks after winning," noting that "a presidential campaign costs a lot of money to run." Read more at The New York Times.