Tag Archives: fundraising

Trump raises big bucks for himself, stiffs other GOP candidates

Donald Trump portrays himself as an indispensable cash resource for fellow Republicans. So far, they’re not seeing much of a benefit.

The presidential nominee’s July fundraising provided the Republican National Committee with less than half as much as Mitt Romney’s efforts four years ago, an Associated Press review of the campaign finance documents found.

“Typically you see the nominee lift everyone up,” said Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, one of Trump’s defeated primary rivals. The battleground state features a critical Senate race this year, but Trump has all but ignored the Ohio state party. “This time, if anything, everyone else is carrying his water.”

The RNC received $18.1 million from joint fundraising with Trump last month, but only $10.6 million can be used to help Republicans — including Trump — win elections this fall, the filings show. The remainder is earmarked for convention and legal proceedings accounts, or was eaten up by Trump-centered fundraising costs.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus defends Trump as a strong fundraising partner for Republicans. Trump has made the same argument.

“I’m the one that’s raising the money, and other people are getting to use the money that I raised,” Trump said in an Aug. 11 interview with Fox News, adding that he is “raising a lot of money for the Republican Party.”

The Trump campaign said that as of Aug. 1 his victory accounts contained $37 million to be disbursed to his campaign, the RNC and other partners. Trump’s national finance chairman, Steven Mnuchin, said it was a strategic decision not to transfer the money right away.

“It has been a major priority of Donald to fundraise for the party, and the money for field expenses helps not only him but the rest of the ticket,” Mnuchin said Monday.

Still, each day that money isn’t in action puts Republicans a little further behind. Election Day is fewer than 80 days away, and early voting in some states begins in a few weeks. Effective voter contact and turnout operations are time-consuming and costly.

Mnuchin said there is “plenty of money” available. “We’re deploying money as we think we need to deploy money,” he said.

Andrew Weinstein and more than 100 other Republicans wrote an open letter to Priebus earlier this month urging the RNC to ditch Trump and focus on Senate and House candidates. Weinstein said Trump’s lackluster aid to others “validates our entire point.”

“He’s all downside and no upside for the party,” said Weinstein, a former communications director for Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign.

Beyond the RNC, Trump could be helping state parties directly. But he has been particularly stingy with the states that have the toughest Senate elections, such as Ohio and New Hampshire, where Sens. Rob Portman and Kelly Ayotte could be key to maintaining GOP control of the chamber.

Trump’s joint fundraising agreement overlooks those and other states, instead naming 11 partners that are somewhat head-scratching. Several of them, including West Virginia and Tennessee, don’t have a Senate race and are expected to vote Republican in the presidential, while Democrats are heavily favored to win Senate races in other states, such as New York and Connecticut.

Mnuchin called the choice of benefactors a “strategic decision” and declined to explain it.

Regardless, the Trump Victory Committee hadn’t transferred money to any of his state allies as of July 31.

In another change from 2012, Trump is not helping raise money for the National Republican Senatorial Committee or the National Republican Congressional Committee; Romney’s joint fundraising account included both groups.

Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, is taking a broader approach to helping fellow Democrats. Her fundraising agreement spans 38 state and territory party groups and provided them at least $20.3 million last month, federal filings show. That doesn’t include money used for the convention.

The Republican nominee has had a touchy relationship with his party, from threatening to quit the party and run as an independent to disparaging GOP stars and withholding endorsement of House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Raising money for others could help smooth things over, and that may be a reason Trump frequently talks up his efforts. When he formed his fundraising partnership in late May, Trump told the AP he is only raising money because “the RNC really wanted to do it, and I want to show good spirit.”

Consistently claiming others as the focus of his fundraising also helps Trump obscure his change from a mostly self-funded primary candidate to one who raises money like everyone else.

The self-reliance talk has continued even though it’s no longer entirely true. At a rally in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Trump said: “I have no donors telling me what to do. I’m my donor.”

That same day, his July finance report showed he gave his campaign $2 million and raised more than $34.7 million from donors other than himself. That means he was about 5 percent self-funded last month.


Associated Press polling editor Emily Swanson contributed to this stor


Feingold’s lead over Johnson tightens, but his fundraising remains ahead

Democrat Russ Feingold continues to outraise Republican incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin’s hotly contested Senate race, and he has more cash on hand through the first six months of the year.

Both campaigns released fundraising figures Tuesday in advance of the Friday filing deadline for the second quarter of the year. While the candidates are raising and spending on the race, independent outside groups on both sides have also spent millions on television advertising.

Through the first six months of the year, Feingold raised about $7.4 million compared with $4.9 million for Johnson. Feingold also had more money on hand at the end of June —$7.2 million compared with $6.3 million for Johnson.

Johnson’s campaign said Tuesday that he raised $2.8 million in the second quarter of the year, up from $2.1 million in the first three months. Feingold raised nearly $3.3 million in the first quarter and $4.1 million over the three months ending in June.

While still trailing Feingold, the amount Johnson raised for the most recent quarter was third highest among Republican Senate candidates nationwide. Johnson was behind only Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, who brought in $3.1 million, and Ohio’s Rob Portman, who raised $2.9 million.

And Johnson’s fundraising increased 33 percent from the first to second quarter, while Feingold’s went up 24 percent.

“The growing support we’re seeing for Ron proves that people know what’s at stake in this election,” said Johnson’s campaign spokesman Brian Reisinger in an emailed statement. “In the fight to keep control of the U.S. Senate, the choice in Wisconsin is as clear as it can get — between an Oshkosh manufacturer who is working to solve our problems and keep us safe, and a career politician who got us on the wrong track in the first place.”

Democrats need to net four or five seats to win back Senate control — four if they hang onto the White House and can send the vice president to break ties in the Senate; five if they don’t.

Democrats have viewed Johnson as vulnerable, given that he’s up for re-election in a presidential year, when Democratic turnout is traditionally higher in Wisconsin. No Republican senator in Wisconsin has been elected in a presidential year since 1980.

A Marquette University Law School poll released last month showed Feingold ahead of Johnson by 9 points among likely voters and 4 points among registered voters.

But a poll released today showed the race tightening. The latest Marquette Law School Poll found Feingold led Johnson among registered voters 48 percent to 41 percent in a head-to-head matchup.

Among likely voters, Feingold’s lead was even smaller, 49–44 percent.

Conservative outside groups have been investing heavily in helping Johnson, outspending those backing Feingold about $5 million to $1 million in the first six months of the year. Most of the third-party spending benefiting Feingold so far, about $2 million from six liberal groups, came in 2015.

Trump’s about face on fundraising unlikely to dent popularity

Supporters of billionaire Donald Trump appear unfazed by his decision to accept money from outside donors, despite his earlier vow to self-fund his presidential campaign and his criticism of rivals as puppets of wealthy special interests.

The vow has been a cornerstone of Trump’s election strategy to present himself as an outsider who is not in the pocket of rich donors, even though he has accepted more than $12 million in contributions so far. The strategy paid off last week when the New York businessman emerged as the Republican party’s presumptive presidential nominee, after sweeping a series of state nominating contests.

Since then, Trump has said he would no longer self-finance and would work with the party to raise more than $1 billion to help him fight his eventual Democratic Party challenger. Critics accused him of flip flopping, but some supporters don’t agree.

Three dozen of the 40 pro-Trump voters Reuters interviewed said they were not concerned about his reversal. Only four indicated the switch made them uneasy, though all of them said they would still support him.

Most of those interviewed applauded the way the celebrity businessman billed himself as a “blue-collar billionaire” who didn’t need other people’s money, but said they understood Trump would need far more resources to compete in the general election.

They would have no problem donating to the billionaire, albeit in the same kind of small increments that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has used to build his nearly $200 million fundraising juggernaut.

“Even though I’m on welfare, I would donate to Trump,” said Pamela Thompson, a 46-year-old mother of three school-age kids from Tulsa, Oklahoma. “And my kids would run a lemonade stand to help elect him.”

The supporters interviewed said Trump’s pledge to self-finance his campaign was less important to them than his promises to crack down on undocumented workers and ease the pain of mostly white, blue collar towns that have seen manufacturing jobs lost to developing countries.

Sharon Jones, a 53-year old Wal-Mart cashier from Coleman County, Alabama, says her anger over undocumented immigrants shopping at her store on welfare benefits is animating her support for Trump, who has promised to deport undocumented workers and build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

“They are doing better than I am on my $9.45 an hour,” Jones said.

The majority of supporters interviewed said they thought Trump’s decision to fundraise was strategically wise given that Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, has raised more than $250 million so far.

In the 2012 election, Republican nominee Mitt Romney and his Democratic opponent, President Barack Obama, each raised $1 billion.

“You gotta fight fire with fire. Bring it on,” said Cheryl Ressler Halvorson, a cattle rancher from Williston, North Dakota whose support for Trump stems mainly from her ire over having to pay $1,100 a month for health insurance with a $13,000 deductible due to the government mandate known as Obamacare.

Halvorson is not an outlier. Most Trump supporters have stayed loyal despite the candidate frequently reversing or updating policy positions on key economic and social issues.

Trump is not the first U.S. presidential candidate to change his mind about financing his election campaign.

In the 2008 election, Obama also did an about-face. He said he would forego public financing of his general election campaign against Republican John McCain. This was a reversal of his earlier stance and it allowed him to pursue a record fund-raising effort. Supporters were unfazed by the shift and Obama went on to win the election.

Super PACs spend $300 million, but fail to sway voters

Four years ago in Florida, a super PAC pummeled Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich with $10 million in attack ads, clearing him out of the race to the benefit of eventual nominee Mitt Romney.

Prior to yesterday’s primary election in Florida, attack ads rained down in the Sunshine State. PACs spent $18 million against Donald Trump, as outside groups tried to edge the front-runner off the path to the nomination.

But like so many other aspects of 2016, super PACs aren’t working out as planned.

Outside groups so far have spent roughly $300 million on the presidential race, an Associated Press analysis found. For all of that money, Trump, who has dismissed super PACs as a “crooked business,” is leading the Republican field.

And on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders deflects the big-money spending of front-runner Hillary Clinton’s allies by using their mere presence as a fundraising opportunity. That could help explain why Priorities USA, a super PAC backing Clinton, has spent just $6 million of its $50 million.

“People are kind of on to them,” Ben Carson, who recently dropped out of the Republican presidential race and now backs Trump, said of outside groups. “There’s so much at stake that people don’t have a lot of time to pay attention to silly ads, and that’s essentially what these super PACs do. They haven’t found anything useful to do.”

For the early voting states, well-funded advertising campaigns to take down Trump didn’t exist. That changed with Florida, where the airwaves were crowded with Trump-bashing ads.

One of the hardest-hitting spots called the billionaire businessman “offensive, out of control,” as it plays bleeped-out clips of him using harsh language. Another told Republican voters that Trump is “very liberal” and is “playing us for chumps.”

Still more ads ridiculed Trump’s for-profit university, his real estate company’s use of foreign workers and his delay in condemning the endorsement of a former Ku Klux Klan leader.

Like so many arguments against Trump’s candidacy, the messages failed to resonate.

Trump decisively pummeled Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida yesterday, forcing him to suspend his once-promising campaign. The group that spent the most to take out Trump in Florida was Rubio’s super PAC, Conservative Solutions.

Across the country, Rubio has benefited from $64 million in spending by Conservative Solutions and a companion nonprofit that doesn’t disclose its donors. He’s won just three of 27 primary contests.

Rubio’s failure to launch follows that of fellow Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Rick Perry, who also couldn’t leverage millions of dollars in super PAC help. Carly Fiorina ran her entire presidential bid on the back of a $12 million super PAC, but she, too, sputtered out.

Such efforts account for the bulk of the nearly $300 million in outside spending that the AP tallied by reviewing Federal Election Commission reports and ad buys tracked by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group.

That’s with almost eight months to go. In the entire 2008 election, outside groups spent less than $40 million on federal politics.

The cash tsunami followed the 2010 Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, which held that spending on elections has free speech protections. That means that while the candidates’ official campaigns are limited to donations of $2,700 per election, individuals, corporations and unions can form outside groups to spend limitless amounts.

Presidential super PACs debuted in the 2012 GOP primary. In addition to hammering Gingrich, the pro-Romney group, called Restore Our Future, spent millions of dollars crushing Rick Santorum.

“We played a very vital role in that we litigated the records of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum,” said Carl Forti, who ran Restore Our Future.

That’s exactly what groups are trying to do now with Trump. The difference, Forti said, is that the ads cannot match the “overwhelming” amount of news coverage that Trump has attracted.

An earlier advertising effort to define Trump and Sanders could have worked, said Anthony Corrado, a professor at Colby College in Maine, who specializes in the influence of money in politics. But at this point, doing so plays right into an outsider’s hands, Corrado said.

“For both of them, a rising tide of money against them only reinforces their image as the guys that the Washington insiders are worried about.”

The Sanders campaign seems well aware of that.

“Just yesterday, the Clinton campaign’s largest super PAC announced hundreds of thousands of dollars in new spending in Missouri, Illinois and Ohio. And there’s more coming,” his campaign manager Jeff Weaver wrote.

He concluded by asking for $3.


Walker’s gubernatorial campaign ends 2015 with $20K in bank

New campaign finance reports show Republican Scott Walker’s gubernatorial campaign finished 2015 with a little more than $20,257 in the bank.

Walker’s campaign released reports late last week that show the governor raised $6.4 million during the past year. He spent almost $6.7 million to finish with $20,257 on hand.

Walker does not face re-election until 2018.

He has not declared his candidacy but has hinted he plans to run for a third term. 

The governor spent much of the last year campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination. He dropped out of the race in September, leaving his candidate committee with a debt of more than $1 million as of October. 

His federal campaign finance reports aren’t due until Jan. 31.

Walker sends out fundraising plea for campaign debt

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has sent out a fundraising plea to backers asking for their help as he faces an estimated $1 million debt from his failed presidential campaign.

Walker says in the email he “incurred a campaign debt” before seeking donations as low as $10 to “end this campaign in the black.”

Walker says in the email he is disappointed the presidential campaign “didn’t turn out the way we wanted,” but says “there are always new ways to serve others and plenty of conservative reforms to enact in Wisconsin.”

One Wisconsin Now director Scot Ross said Friday that instead of “shaking down donors” to pay off campaign debt, Walker should be focusing on Wisconsin’s economic problems.

Walker quit the presidential race on Sept. 21.

Feingold outraised Johnson by $1M during third quarter

Democrat Russ Feingold raised about $1 million more than Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson during the three-month fundraising period ending in September. That was the first full quarter that Feingold was an announced candidate in the expected rematch between the two candidates in November 2016.

Both Johnson and Feingold’s campaigns released spending summaries due to be filed with the Federal Elections Commission on Oct. 15.

Feingold raised $2.4 million between July and September, while Johnson brought in $1.4 million.

Feingold’s edge in fundraising this past quarter means both candidates now report having roughly the same amount of cash on hand. Johnson said he ended September with $3.5 million, while Feingold had $3.4 million.

Johnson defeated Feingold in 2010 in a mid-term wave election that brought tea party dominance to many state governments and to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Johnson’s spokesman says none of the money raised this past quarter came from the Senator’s own personal wealth. Johnson spent about $8.2 million of his own money to defeat Feingold in 2010.

Johnson is widely considered the most vulnerable U.S. senator facing re-election next year.

Scott Walker raises $5.9 million this year, not including funds donated to groups supporting him

Gov. Scott Walker raised nearly $5.9 million in the first six months of the year through a state committee used to finance his races for governor.

Walker reported the fundraising Monday to state regulators.

The money raised by his Friends of Scott Walker committee is separate from other groups he and his supporters have created to bolster his run for the Republican presidential nomination. Those groups generally raise far more than candidates because there are no contribution limits and they are not required to reveal the identities of their donors.

Monday’s report shows that Walker raised nearly $5.9 million and spent almost $5.7 million over that time.

Walker also created a tax-exempt committee called Our American Revival to raise money as he explored a presidential run, and his backers have created a super PAC called Unintimidated that can also raise unlimited amounts.

Walker to donors: Still praying over presidential run

Scott Walker told donors on June 19 that that he’s still praying over whether to run for president in 2016.

He also said he believes he is “uniquely qualified to lead this country.”

In separate fundraising emails, Walker asked supporters if he should run for president even though his candidacy is a near certainty. He’s been traveling the country, raising money and building the infrastructure for months, and is one of the most viable potential Republican candidates.

On June 18, Walker opened a “testing the waters” bank account, another step toward a run.

“I have been praying about this decision for a long time,” Walker said in one email sent on June 19 asking for donations of between $10 and $500. When Walker first acknowledged he was serious considering running for president back in November, shortly after winning re-election to a second term, he said he was praying about it.

“I spend a lot of time not just talking with people but praying about, thinking about with my family as well whether or not eventually that might be a call to run for the presidency,'” Walker said then. “I think you shouldn’t run unless you feel you’re called to do it.”

The right-wing governor has been traveling the country for months, along with other announced and likely Republican presidential candidates. On June 20, he was scheduled to speak at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Philadelphia and at the Road to Majority conference in Washington.

He returned this week from a trade mission in Canada, his fourth overseas trip in five months.

Wisconsin Democratic Party chairwoman Martha Laning said it’s ridiculous for Walker to act as if he hasn’t already made up his mind about running.

“Scott Walker isn’t `testing the waters,’ he’s pushing the limits on how much money he can raise before he officially announces his candidacy,” she said in a statement. “It’s absurd to believe he’s basing his decision on whether to run for president on how many $10 donations he gets.”

Walker has said he won’t officially announce a presidential campaign until he has signed the state budget into law. Republicans who control the Legislature have been at an impasse for three weeks, with no resolution in sight. In his fundraising emails, Walker doesn’t talk about that standstill, but instead touts past victories and even takes a not-so-veiled swipe at Jeb Bush and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“I didn’t inherit fame or fortune and I don’t think being President is by birthright, but I do believe I am uniquely qualified to lead this country,” Walker wrote, echoing comments he’s made in stump speeches.

Walker, who won a 2012 recall motivated by his push to effectively end collective bargaining for public workers, said in another fundraising message Friday that “it took guts to take on the Big Government Labor Bosses who were used to running the show in Wisconsin.”

“Now it’s time to see if our conservative vision should be taken beyond Wisconsin’s borders, but I can’t make that important decision without you by my side,” Walker wrote.

Catholic group cuts funding to Portland nonprofit that supports marriage equality

A Catholic organization has decided to cut off long-standing funding to a Portland, Oregon, immigrant rights group that works with day laborers over its affiliation with an organization that supports same-sex marriage.

Voz Workers’ Rights Education lost a $75,000 grant in June from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which is the national anti-poverty, social justice program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Catholic Campaign director Ralph McCloud said the group asked Voz to cut ties with the National Council of La Raza, a large Latino civil rights organization that endorses marriage equality, to be considered for the grant. Voz has been an affiliate of NCLR since 2009, primarily as a grantee.

After Voz refused to cut its ties, the organization “self-disqualified” itself from the funding process, McCloud said.

In June, the bishops approved more than $14 million in grants to 205 organizations. The bishops had supported Voz since 1994, via 10 grants, McCloud said.

“It’s certainly difficult and painful, because Voz has done some tremendous work,” McCloud said. “But it became obvious that they were assisting in something that was contrary to the teachings of our traditions. And we have to honor our donors’ intent that this money be spent on issues that are not contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Voz is not the first nonprofit to lose church funding because of ties to organizations that endorse same-sex marriage.

A coalition of conservative Catholic groups led by the American Life League has criticized what it sees as lax administration by the Catholic Campaign and has been working since 2009 to call attention to CCHD grantees with activities, positions or affiliations with other nonprofits that contradict Church teachings on abortion, contraception and gay rights.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops conducted a review of the grant program and adopted several changes in 2010 that were designed to clarify the eligibility rules and strengthen the application review process. As a result of the review, nine nonprofits that were part of coalitions led by groups that supported reproductive rights or same-sex marriage no longer qualified for the funds, McCloud said. Others chose not to apply, or re-apply.

Community organizations serving immigrants and the poor in Colorado, Illinois, California and several other states have either had to decide whether to forgo their grants or sever their relationships with larger groups whose views the church considers problematic.

The lost grant represents a large bulk of Voz’s annual budget of $310,000, said Voz director Romeo Sosa. But he said the decision to withdraw from the grant competition allowed Voz to maintain its values.

“Marriage equality is not the focus of our work; we focus on immigrant rights. But we work with everyone, we don’t discriminate,” Sosa said. “There may be gays and lesbians among our staff or workers, and we can’t turn our backs on them.”

Local labor, immigrant rights, and groups that support gay rights have vowed to fundraise for Voz to fill the financial hole left by the grant’s loss.