A couple of tidbits from one of The Bulwark newsletters I get.
Senior Editor Jonathan V. Last compiled three interesting stories concerning Trump campaign financing and how the money is being spent.
First, the NYT: “President Trump’s re-election campaign committee ended September with only $63.1 million in the bank even after canceling some television buys late last month.” The money is so tight that Trump is wasting time flying cross-country to do fundraising.
How bad is the burn rate? The campaign has raised $1.5 billion and is down to $63 million.
Then Bloomberg: Which found that for last quarter the Trump campaign was spending 77 cents to get every dollar it raised. Which is . . . not great.
And finally the AP:
Since 2017, more than $39 million has been paid to firms controlled by Parscale, who was ousted as campaign manager over the summer. An additional $273.2 million was paid to American Made Media Consultants, a Delaware limited liability company, whose owners are not publicly disclosed.
Campaigns typically reveal in mandatory disclosures who their primary vendors are. But by routing money to Parscale’s firms, as well as American Made Media Consultants, Trump satisfied the basic disclosure requirements without detailing the ultimate recipients.
Other questionable expenditures by Trump and the RNC that are included in campaign finance disclosures:
— Nearly $100,000 spent on copies of Donald Trump Jr.’s book “Triggered,” which helped propel it to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list.
— Over $7.4 million spent at Trump-branded properties since 2017.
— At least $35.2 million spent on Trump merchandise.
— $38.7 million in legal and “compliance” fees. In addition to tapping the RNC and his campaign to pay legal costs during his impeachment proceedings, Trump has also relied on his political operation to cover legal costs for some aides.
— At least $14.1 million spent on the Republican National Convention. The event was supposed to have been held in Charlotte, North Carolina, but Trump relocated it to Jacksonville, Florida, after a dispute with North Carolina’s Democratic governor over coronavirus safety measures. The Florida event was ultimately cancelled, as well, with a mostly online convention taking its place.
— $912,000 spent on ads that ran on the personal Facebook pages of Parscale and Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson.
— A $250,000 ad run during Game 7 of the 2019 World Series, which came after Trump was booed by spectators when he attended Game 5.
— At least $218,000 for Trump surrogates to travel aboard private jets provided by campaign donors.
— $1.6 million on TV ads in the Washington, D.C., media market, an overwhelmingly Democratic area where Trump has little chance of winning but where he is a regular TV watcher.
I guess the favorite one is Bloomberg’s take that 77% of all money raised went toward something akin to “administrative fees” at a charity. To be honest, if I saw that a charity was spending 77 cents of ever dollar I donate to raise 23 cents, I would find another charity real quick.
Last’s summary does a nice job of summing things up.
“I bring all of this up because for a sustained period over the spring and summer I wrote a series of pieces arguing that all of the puffery about Brad Parscale and his “Death Star” was exactly wrong: That the Trump digital operation was basically a Nigerian Prince scam run by incompetent amateurs.
Back then a lot of people told me I was an idiot and had no idea what I was talking about and that Parscale was a genius.
Two weeks from now those same people are going to be saying, “Trump would have won if Parscale hadn’t screwed him over . . .””