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Investigation

Democrats Spent More Backing Trump-esque Candidates In Primaries Than Trump Has

Trump has spent only a fraction of his war chest on 2022 Republicans, but supporters say his rallies are priceless

DailyWire.com

Democrats spent more on pro-Donald Trump candidates in Republican primaries than Trump himself directly ponied up to help his favored candidates get over the finish line, according to a Daily Wire analysis.

The findings, taken from Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, are a black mark for Democrats — who claim that Trump-esque candidates are threats to democracy, but helped them win primaries because they viewed them as easier to defeat in the general election compared to more moderate candidates.

But they also potentially reflect badly on the former president, who raised hundreds of millions of dollars but has steered little of it to fellow Republicans with only two weeks until the 2022 elections. Trump backers said money is just a small portion of the equation, and that Trump has helped candidates by hosting rallies aimed at energizing GOP voters. He also attends fundraisers for candidates, serving as a major draw to entice donors.

Trump raised huge sums as he vowed to challenge the results of the 2020 election, and as of the end of September – the most recent FEC report — $92 million was sitting in a political action committee called Save America PAC.

During the 2022 primaries, Trump-controlled PACs donated $315,000 to Republican candidates for federal office. At the state level, it also gave $2.8 million to Take Back Georgia and $1.5 million to Get Georgia Right PAC, both of which attacked Republican governor and Trump nemesis Brian Kemp, who nonetheless won the Republican primary for governor against former Sen. David Purdue. After Purdue lost to Kemp, the Trump group sent $95,000 to an entity called Georgians PAC. But that PAC has not reported running any ads — or filed any quarterly report at all, drawing a rebuke from the FEC.

For the general election, Trump-controlled PACs gave $150,000 to the Republican National Committee and $425,000 to federal candidates, as of the end of September, the latest report on record with the FEC. As a traditional political action committee, it is limited to donating $5,000 to candidates. It donated to 63 candidates in the primary election, and 85 in the general.

Getting around these restrictions merely required creating a “super PAC,” which could spend unlimited amounts supporting candidates on its own, and transferring Save America PAC funds to it. But it wasn’t until September 23, 2022 that such an entity was incorporated. Called Make America Great Again Inc., it shares some staff with Save America PAC, but staff declined to say whether any of the $92 million has been transferred to it.

Democrats backing Trump-aligned candidates in Republican primaries
$44M
Trump spending in primary
$5M
Trump spending in general
$9M
Trump war chest
$92M

When a super PAC spends money boosting candidates, it must report the expenditures to the FEC within 24 hours. But with just over two weeks before the November 8 election, it has reported spending $8.5 million total, in five Senate races. MAGA Inc. spent about $2.3 million in Ohio; $1.8 million in Arizona, $1.6 million in Pennsylvania, $1.5 million in Georgia; and $1.2 million in Nevada, according to FEC records.

The super-PAC is likely to continue to spend more in the coming days. But a problem with not creating a super PAC until so late in the cycle is that much of the TV ad time has already been bought, and buying election-eve ads at the last minute can require paying highly inflated prices, if it is possible at all. It also has no effect on early voters, and all of the Senate races it has bought ads in offer early or mail-in voting.

As control of the Senate hangs in the balance in a series of tight races, Save America PAC has spent heavily on fundraising and rallies. The PAC has also paid nearly a half million dollars in rent to Trump Tower, a quarter-million dollars to Trump Hotel Collection, and $52,000 to the Mar-A-Lago Club, according to FEC records.

Taylor Budowich, who runs MAGA Inc. and serves as a spokesman for Save America PAC, said the rallies Trump holds, which often include praising local candidates, are priceless. Trump is “introducing millions of new voters to his endorsed candidates and energizing voters who usually sit-out midterms. At this point, the entire Republican Party, from fundraising, to data, to get-out-the-vote, is on Donald Trump’s shoulders and together they will deliver massive GOP victories come November 8,” he told The Daily Wire.

Save America PAC said that at recent rallies, more than half of registrants were attending their first rally, and 38% of those who were registered to vote did not vote in the last midterms.

“These are people who are less likely to vote in 2022, if it wasn’t for President Trump, his endorsement, and his encouragement of attendees to vote in 2022,” it said.

Trump has also served as a draw at party fundraisers at least seven times this election cycle. He has done the same for other candidates, including 22 events for candidates who were navigating primaries, and 36 for candidates who were either incumbents or were in general election season.

Still, some moves by Trump have seemed to prioritize his own finances over those of Republicans who are headed into races that could determine whether Republicans control the Senate. When people donated online to a fundraiser that said “Your contribution will benefit Save America Joint Fundraising Committee and Blake Masters for Senate,” what donors didn’t see — unless they clicked the fine print — is that a $100 donation defaulted to $99 for Trump and $1 for Masters.

Katie Miller, a spokesman for the Masters campaign–which will have the list of donors and can solicit future donations from them, a valuable item for a campaign–said she wasn’t troubled by the arrangement and that the solicitation was only a small part of Trump’s contribution to the race.

“Blake is extremely grateful for all of President Trump’s support both financial and his energy and time spent campaigning in Arizona,” Miller said.

The outside spending could be especially welcomed because all six of the highest-spending candidates this cycle are Democrats, according to the FEC.

Other national kingmakers with massive war chests, however, have plunged more of it into the current election. The Senate Leadership Fund, which is controlled by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has spent $181 million on the 2022 general election, according to FEC independent expenditure data. Trump’s $8.5 million in federal independent expenditures is less than even obscure groups like the National Association of Realtors Congressional Fund.

More surprisingly, the amount is far less than the $44 million that Democrats spent boosting Trump-aligned candidates in the primary election, according to OpenSecrets.org. For example, Illinois Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Democratic Governors Association spent $35 million successfully boosting Trump endorsee Darren Bailey against his more moderate Republican primary opponent — more than three times what the candidate himself spent. In Pennsylvania, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro spent $840,000 on TV ads successfully helping Trump endorsee Doug Mastriano get the nomination — more than Mastriano spent. In both cases, the reason is that the Democrats thought they could beat the Trump-aligned candidate more easily in the general election.

Of course, this put Democrats in the ethically dubious position of setting up candidates that they painted as extremist threats to democracy to actually win the election.

But Democrats’ calculation also signaled that polling suggested these candidates could have an uphill battle prevailing in the general election, making it all the more important for Trump’s primary support to turn into robust support to help them win the general elections.

FEC records do not show any expenditures from Trump-affiliated PACs to or on behalf of Bailey or Mastriano to help them beat their Democrat opponents. During the general election, Trump has appeared with Mastriano at one rally and one online event. After endorsing Bailey in June, Trump has not joined him at any events, with Bailey appearing to calculate that while the Trump connection was valuable in a primary, it could be a liability in a general election.

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