- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Former President Donald Trump is sitting on an absurd amount of campaign cash — more than the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee combined.

His political committees raised $51 million over the last six months of 2021, and he ended the year with $122 million in the bank, most of that in his Save America Political Action Committee.

His operation said the money came from more than 1.6 million donations, and more than 98% of those were considered “small-dollar” contributions of less than $200, in what political operatives described as an unprecedented show of force for someone not currently in office.

That’s even after the country’s largest tech-media companies kicked him off their platforms, denying him a conduit to voters, said Ford O’Connell, a Florida-based strategist with strong ties to the Trump operation.

He is the most powerful force in American politics,” Mr. O’Connell said. “People have tried to bury this guy, and he is still as relevant as ever.”

The money is yet another way Mr. Trump is blazing his own trail now that he’s out of office.

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Former President George W. Bush took a break from politics. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama remained deeply involved in politics, but put their efforts into other pet projects — Mr. Clinton on his global foundation and Mr. Obama on state redistricting efforts.

But those three men were two-term presidents, barred by the Constitution from seeking the office again, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of OpenSecrets, which tracks campaign financing.

She said they also spent time raising money to finance their presidential libraries. Mr. Obama has a billion-dollar goal for his Chicago-based library.

Mr. Trump is still eligible for another term, and Mr. O’Connell said it is “nearly certain” at this point that he will run again.

The cash is a good way to keep would-be competitors for the Republican nomination off the field. It also gives him another way to influence races for Congress and governorships and statehouses across the country.

“President Donald J. Trump has built a political organization that continues to capture and define the future of the Republican Party,” said Taylor Budowich, Mr. Trump’s communications director.

He said the president’s “MAGA” movement will “crash across the midterms” in November, when control of both houses of Congress and governorships in three dozen states will be decided.

Mr. Trump’s $51 million raised from July 1 to Dec. 31 is more than any other Republican has reported.

His $122 million in cash is more than reported by the DNC, at $65 million, and the RNC, at $56.3 million.

The two national party committees did raise more than Mr. Trump, but they were bolstered by large donations from wealthy supporters.

Mr. Trump’s team said his money came chiefly from small-dollar donors.

Issue One, which advocates for overhauling election laws and new campaign finance rules, said Mr. Trump is monetizing “the Big Lie,” which is the name some news outlets and political opponents have given to the former president’s unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him.

“For years, we’ve known that outrage can fuel fundraising. Sadly, it now appears that relentless attacks on the integrity of our democracy also cause donors to open their wallets,” said Nick Penniman, CEO of Issue One. “When Donald Trump benefits financially from eroding people’s faith in our free and fair elections, the American people lose.”

Indeed, some of Mr. Trump’s fundraising pleas to supporters touch on the 2020 election.

“The 2020 election was filled with errors, irregularities and scandal,” read one email from Save America.

Far more common are offers of presidential photos and challenges to embarrass Democrats by rolling up big numbers.

The Trump operation floods supporters with requests. A half-dozen emails a day is not unusual.

In a statement released by Save America on Tuesday, Mr. Trump complained that his fundraising wasn’t getting enough attention.

“The Fake News Media has done everything in their power not to report the record setting $122 million that has been raised for Save America and publicly announced last night, they hate that I broke all records,” the former president said.

He said the power of his endorsement “is virtually unblemished.”

Republican candidates are ferociously competing for Mr. Trump’s endorsement, which can make or break a party primary election.

Mr. Trump’s team said his political operations in 2021 gave $1,350,000 to “like-minded causes and endorsed candidates.”

“It’s not just his fundraising, which is jaw-dropping,” Mr. O’Connell said. “It’s his rallies, his endorsements, his influence on policy. In a lot of ways, he is the Republican Party at this point.”

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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