Campaign Financing: Trump appears to be out of funds

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WASHINGTON — Donald Trump is one of the wealthiest men to ever run for president, but his campaign appears to be flat broke.

What's more, fundraising reports show he's used about $6 million in campaign money to pay his own companies and family members.

The billionaire businessman's financial woes were enough to inspire the mocking Twitter hashtag "TrumpSoPoor" on Tuesday and, far more seriously, give already reluctant donors a fresh batch of reasons to withhold their money.

Trump's campaign expenses are hardly inspiring confidence among people whose money he's pursuing. The spending includes a $423,000 May payment to Mar-a-Lago, the private club in Florida that serves as his vacation home, and enough Trump-branded bottled water to fill a bathtub.

Democratic rival Hillary Clinton ribbed Trump on Tuesday, tweeting to followers: "What is Trump spending his meager campaign resources on? Why, himself, of course."

A presidential campaign is expensive — about $1 billion in recent years. That money pays for crucial candidate outreach, including costly television advertising and identifying, persuading and getting voters to the polls in November.

Severely underfunded

Trump began this month with $1.3 million in the bank, less campaign cash than many congressional candidates and even behind several of the Republican presidential candidates he defeated. The $3 million he collected in May donations is about one-tenth what Clinton raised in the same month.

Trump waves off criticism of his fundraising, saying he only began in earnest May 25 despite having become the presumptive nominee at the beginning of last month. He largely financed his successful primary bid through personal loans and is leaning heavily on the Republican National Committee for help.

"To date, the campaign's fundraising has been incredible, and we continue to see a tremendous outpouring of support for Mr. Trump and money to the Republican Party," his campaign said in a statement Tuesday.

Both Trump and the party say he can write checks if donations don't pick up. But there are signs he is taking campaign fundraising more seriously.

He made his first emailed pitch for donations on Tuesday, writing that he would match up to $2 million in contributions. "This is the first fundraising email I have ever sent on behalf of my campaign," Trump wrote. "That's right. THE FIRST ONE."

That more-engaged approach can't too soon for Republican financiers.

"There's a lot of reluctance," said Spencer Zwick, who was Mitt Romney's chief fundraiser four years ago. "Some are saying the finance organization is highly disorganized."

Trump's defenders, including New York donor Anthony Scaramucci, say a major part of his appeal is that he's a "non-politician" who does things differently.


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