The vast majority appeared to flow to Trump’s campaign coffers, the Republican National Committee and their joint committees — but some went to a new leadership PAC Trump established after the election that could help fuel his political ambitions in the future and retain his influence over the Republican Party for years to come.
“These tremendous fundraising numbers show President Trump remains the leader and source of energy for the Republican Party and that his supporters are dedicated to fighting for the rightful, legal outcome of the 2020 general election,” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement.
In all, the Trump political operation had sent 414 emails — and another 132 text messages — seeking funds between 11 p.m. ET on Election Night, November 3, and Thursday afternoon.
Many purport to seek donations to his “Official Election Defense Fund.” In reality, however, the first 75% of every contribution currently flows to Save America, the new leadership PAC that Trump established less than a week after the election. A donor has to contribute $5,000 to Save America before any funds are directed to the Trump campaign recount account.
In recent days, Trump has escalated his attacks on the election, releasing a 46-minute video on social media this week — filmed at the White House and replete with baseless allegations about the election.
Trump’s post-election haul far outpaces his fundraising performance before the election. In the month of September, for instance, the Trump campaign took in $81.3 million in total receipts.
Reports due late Thursday night were expected to provide more detail about Trump’s spending and cash reserves. But the post-election financial windfall could leave him with a substantial financial head start if he mounts another White House bid in 2024.
The new filings cover only a brief window of activity for Save America, the leadership PAC that Trump launched less than a week after the election. Save America became part of a joint fundraising operation with other Trump entities on November 18, and Thursday’s report covers only activity through November 23.
Save America took in nearly $570,000 in that period, much of it from donors who contributed in small amounts, the filings show.
While politicians can’t use the money in leadership PACs directly on their campaigns, federal law provides broad leeway on their spending — leading to criticism that these committees amount to little more than slush funds to underwrite travel, staff and personal expenses.
In a statement, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel indicated that the party’s money would help fund “election integrity” efforts and the GOP’s next big challenge: Getting out the vote in Georgia, where two Senate runoffs in January will determine whether their party retains control of the US Senate.
“We are investing millions to push back against the Democrats’ unprecedented power grab and drive a massive Get Out The Vote operation in the Peach State,” she said.
Most political committees must file reports Thursday with federal regulators detailing with fundraising and spending between October 15 and November 23. In the news release, Trump officials said all of the affiliated committees, with the exception of Save America, raised a grand total of $495 million during that nearly six-week period.
At that pace, Trump’s political operation raised money at a rate of more than $12 million a day.
“The speed with which Trump has re-armed post the general election” demonstrates that “there is no off-season anymore,” Dan Eberhart, an energy executive and Republican donor, told CNN. “Once again, he is blowing up conventional political norms.”
Money pours into Georgia Senate race
While Trump continues to fundraise, Thursday’s filings also underscore the intense focus among the party’s top donors on the contests in Georgia.
Wealthy Republicans have unleashed a flood of cash to help their party prevail in the twin runoffs in the state. Blackstone Chairman Stephen Schwarzman donated $15 million last month to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission.
Schwarzman, one of Trump’s loyal allies, made headlines recently when he acknowledged Trump’s White House loss and encouraged the country to “move on.”
Other top donors to the Senate-focused PAC include Kenneth Griffin, the CEO of Chicago hedge fund Citadel, who donated a total of $12 million in October and November. Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, contributed a total of $10 million in mid-October.
In all, the Senate Leadership Fund took in $104 million between October 15 and November 23. The group said $71 million of that landed in its account after Election Day.
Even before the recent disclosures, the Adelsons already were the top donors of the 2020 election, contributing $180 million in the election cycle, according to tally by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Those donations supported groups backing Trump’s reelection, along with those working to help Republicans retain their Senate majority and expand their numbers in the US House of Representatives.
The runoffs in Georgia — which pit Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff against Republicans Loeffler and Perdue — already have seen astronomical spending. The candidates and outside groups have bought more than $320 million in TV and radio advertising, according to a CNN tally of data tracked by Kantar’s Campaign Media Analysis Group.
The groups linked to McConnell have dominated outside spending. The Senate Leadership Fund and an affiliated group, American Crossroads, have spent more than $87 million combined on television and radio advertising to sway the outcome.
Thursday’s filings show that Loeffler’s husband, New York Stock Exchange Chairman Jeffrey Sprecher, emerged as a top donor to a super PAC supporting her candidacy, Georgia United Victory. He donated $5 million of the nearly $6.6 million the group raised between October 15 and November 23.
This story has been updated with additional details from Thursday’s FEC filings.
CNN’s Betsy Klein, David Wright and Casey Tolan contributed to this story.