As the dust settles following Tuesday’s midterm elections — while a handful of races have still yet to be called and the final balance of power remains unknown — there are a lot of questions about why Republicans were so overconfident given the significantly less than red wave-y outcome and where efforts could have been better strategized to produce a better outcome than what the GOP is now facing.
Just before Election Day, former President Trump released a memo-type document hyping up his “unprecedented” work on behalf of Republican candidates in the midterm cycle. The memo heralded Trump’s endorsement of “over 330 candidates this election cycle,” hosting “30 rallies across 17 states over the past 18 months,” and “over 50 in-person fundraisers in support of candidates up for re-election.”
The memo also stated that “President Trump raised nearly $350 million this election cycle for Republican candidates and Party Committees” while “Make America Great Again Inc., the main Super PAC for President Donald J. Trump, has spent $16.4 million in 5 weeks in support of U.S. Senate, Gubernatorial, and Attorney General races across the country.”
But a peek at FEC filings for Trump’s campaign committees — as pulled together by the nonprofit OpenSecrets — raises questions about where the money raised by Make America Great Again Inc. and the Save America PAC went.
Americans who receive fundraising emails and other asks from Trump, usually from “Save America,” are directed to a landing page that says contributions “will benefit Save America Joint Fundraising Committee.” That joint committee includes both Save America PAC and Make America Great Again Inc., and the latest data (through the end of September) shows receipts of $131,162,889.00 and expenditures of $124,869,054.00.
Save America PAC, the Trump-affiliated leadership PAC, gave $755,000 directly to Republican candidates and contributed $20 million to Make America Great Again Inc. in the 2022 cycle. MAGA Inc. subsequently reported independent expenditures in support of GOP candidates and opposing Democrats to the tune of $15,030,834.00 through Election Day.
But Save America reported receipts of $107,131,831.00 through October 19. So where’d the rest of that Trump PAC money go?
According to OpenSecrets’ data from the FEC for the 2022 election cycle through October 28, tens of millions of dollars were spent on expenditures that were… not direct expenditures to 2022 candidates running to flip the House and Senate.
Nearly $11.5 million was spent on “unclassifiable” expenditures, $8.2 million was spent on “administrative” costs, $4,067,802 went toward “salaries,” and $3.7 million went to “media.”
Among the top ten vendors and recipients of Save America funding are Event Strategies Inc., which got $9,477,791.00, Critton, Luttier & Coleman, a litigation firm that was paid $3,000,000.00, and Facebook parent company Meta, which was paid $1,542,180 by Trump’s Leadership PAC.
Notably, Event Strategies Inc.’s payday from Save America is for Trump’s rallies, 30 of which were part of the former president’s midterm campaign plan. All the related pomp and circumstance that accompanies Trump — when he touches down on “Trump Force One” and taxis behind the podium to become Trump’s backdrop while Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” plays — isn’t cheap. The more than $9 million Save America PAC spent on rallies is almost half the total amount the PAC handed to the joint Make America Great Again Inc. to be distributed to individual candidates to run and advertise their campaigns.
Comparing the more than $107 million Save America PAC received this cycle with the $755K it gave to candidates and the $20 million it transferred to Make America Great Again Inc., there’s a lot of money brought in that seemingly didn’t go toward, well, “saving America” in the midterms. Unless there were massive expenditures and transfers in the final days of the campaign, a lot of money remains in Trump PAC coffers for… what? The obvious answer is Trump’s next presidential campaign that many believe will be announced next Tuesday at Mar-a-Lago.
According to the FEC records covering the period up to October 19, Save America PAC started the 2022 cycle with $31,169,635.00 on-hand and ended the midterm cycle with $69,722,883.00 in receipts after raising $107,131,831.00 and spending $68,578,582.00 across its expenditures, transfers, and other costs mentioned above.
Not a bad deal to end the 2022 election cycle with a “profit” of $38.6 million, a gain greater than the total cash on hand when the midterms began.
Trump’s posturing before Election Day, as architect of a red wave set to sweep his party into control of Congress, left him blaming his endorsed candidates who lost for what he characterized as not being “a ‘denier'” in Mehmet Oz’s case and for disavowing a “longstanding stance on Election Fraud in the 2020 Presidential Primary” in Don Bolduc’s race. As of Thursday morning, Trump’s posts on Truth Social explained he is “not angry at all” about the midterm outcome because he “did a great job” and “wasn’t the one running!”