PALM BEACH, Fla .– Donald Trump can no longer force the party he until recently led to channel donor money into his wallet, but this weekend he still managed to get his hands on a enjoy the game.
The former president, who was dismissed for a record second time for instigating a violent mob to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan.6 in his latest attempt to hold on to power, could raise up to a quarter of a million dollars to host his own speech to major donors to the Republican National Committee on Saturday night at Mar-a-Lago, his members-only swimming, tennis and croquet club.
“You have to hand it to him,” joked a top party donor, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he has not decided whether he wants to support a presidential election for Trump in 2024.
“President Trump is a powerful leader of the party. When you’re a past president and have a large audience, you can make certain requests to participate, ”said a member of the RNC, who also spoke on condition of anonymity. “Many donors are very happy to have the opportunity to go there. Other potential candidates for 2024 may not like it, but that’s the reality here. “
The ongoing Republican spending at Mar-a-Lago follows the auto-trade model Trump started when he locked down the GOP nomination in the spring of 2016. And if Republican donors do indeed like to visit what is now the Trump’s residence is a taste. they only seem to have developed in recent years.
In the five years from May 2011 to May 2016, Republican federal candidates and committees spent just $ 17,066 in Mar-a-Lago – and over 90% of that came from the Allen West Guardian Fund, headed by the former Florida congressman who was by then a Fox News contributor.
Over the next five years, starting in May 2016, that total grew more than 69-fold, to $ 1,179,686, according to a HuffPost review of Federal Election Commission filings.
“To be successful and be successful in the Republican Party, you have to bow down to the king,” said Joe Walsh, a former GOP congressman who ran against Trump for the 2020 presidential nomination. “So it will be. so at least until 2024, probably as long as the king lives. “
The exact amount the RNC is spending for the use of the banquet hall and catering at Mar-a-Lago will not be made public until at least mid-May, when the party will be required to file a report with the FEC. detailing his contributions and expenses for April. .
Much of the spring “donor retreat” takes place at the neighboring Four Seasons hotel, as it has for several years. Only supporters who give five- and six-figure amounts each year are invited and they can listen to presentations by party political staff on the upcoming elections and hear from potential presidential candidates. This year, that group includes Senator Rick Scott of Florida, former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Other featured speakers include South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and former Trump White House aide Kellyanne Conway.
Only Trump, however, will address the roughly 400 attendees at his own for-profit venture, though DeSantis will share the stage with him and RNC president Ronna McDaniel. Party officials did not respond to questions from HuffPost about why he had agreed to let Trump personally benefit from his remarks.
“I’m sure it helps Trump, but I think it helps the RNC as well,” the GOP donor said, citing the party’s many fundraising emails and texts to raise money from small contributors by pulling money. goes out on a trip to dinner.
During the years of his presidency, Trump asked the RNC and his campaign to spend $ 8.5 million in donor money on his own businesses, according to a review of FEC files by HuffPost. This included $ 639,031 at Mar-a-Lago.
In 2018, for example, Trump asked the RNC to host a dinner and lunch the next day in Mar-a-Lago as part of the donor retreat. The party ended up paying him $ 286,919.
Republican candidates and committees beyond Trump’s control have spent an additional $ 2 million on his properties during his four years in office, according to the HuffPost review, and this pattern continues, despite Trump’s deep unpopularity in the whole country.
Trump spent weeks attacking the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election after losing, lying that it was “stolen” from him and that he actually won in a “landslide.” These lies have continued through a long line of unsuccessful lawsuits challenging the results in a handful of states. After the electoral college finally voted on December 14, making Democrat Joe Biden’s victory official, Trump began urging his supporters to come to Washington on January 6 to intimidate his own vice president and Congress into overthrowing election results and install Trump as president for another term anyway. The mob he instigated attempted to do just that by storming the Capitol. His supporters even chanted “Hang Mike Pence” after Pence refused to comply with Trump’s demands.
Despite this, Republican candidates have paved the way for Trump’s new home to host fundraising events, despite its high costs compared to other venues. Senator Mike Lee of Utah launched it on February 20 and was followed by Noem, DeSantis, former Trump press secretary and Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former member from Trump’s staff and Ohio Congressional candidate Max Miller and, Friday, Sen Marco Rubio of Florida.
Rubio’s event was supposed to attract just 25 donors, each contributing up to $ 2,900, so it’s unclear how much he will make – if any – for his 2022 re-election campaign after Trump’s fees have been deducted.
“I don’t think it’s about the money,” said one of the GOP’s leading consultants, also on condition of anonymity. “It’s a signal to the base that they are still on the team.”
Politically-oriented nonprofits are also hosting events in Mar-a-Lago and other Trump properties, resulting in payments that may never be publicly known. Women for America First, the group that planned and staged the pre-insurgency rally near the White House on January 6, is hosting a “Save America Summit” this weekend at Trump’s golf resort near the airport. Miami, while the former South Carolina senator. Jim DeMint’s Conservative Partnership Institute hosted an event in Mar-a-Lago this week. The institute is a 501 (c) (3) charity, which means taxpayers indirectly subsidize its activities, but neither group ever has to disclose how much it pays to Trump.
Walsh said the Republicans’ embrace of Trump had the attributes of a cult and he no longer wanted to be a part of it.
“It’s scary,” he says. “That’s why someone like me is in Republican politics forever. Because I can’t support any Republican who backed Trump in 2020. ”
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