President Trump's supporters kept up a robust stream of donations in the first quarter of 2017, pouring more than $42 million into the coffers of his campaign and the Republican National Committee, according to new Federal Election Commission filings and party officials.
Much of the money came from small donors who gave less than $200 in response to email solicitations urging them to support the president's agenda and stymie “the Fake News and Democrats in Congress,” as one put it. More than 250,000 new contributors have given online to Trump's campaign committee or the RNC so far this year, officials said.
Trump's $42.6 million haul with the national party and two joint fundraising committees is more than twice as much as the $15.8 million that then-President Barack Obama raised in conjunction with the Democratic National Committee during the first quarter of 2009, campaign finance reports filed Friday show.
That's largely because, unlike his predecessors, Trump has not ceased fundraising since his election. Emails touting Trump-branded merchandise and offering donors the chance to win a trip to Washington for his inauguration helped him stockpile $8.4 million for a 2020 reelection bid by March 31.
In the process, Trump's campaign and affiliated committees have continued to spend heavily on T-shirts, bumper stickers and other merchandise, shelling out nearly $4.8 million for such items in the first three months of 2017, federal filings show. The majority of the funds was paid to Louisiana-based Ace Specialties.
Trump's campaign also directed more money to Trump properties this year. In the first quarter, his campaign and a joint fundraising committee spent nearly $500,000 for facility rental and lodging at Trump hotels, rent at the Trump Tower in New York and catering from Trump restaurants, filings show. During the 2016 election, the campaign and the RNC spent more than $14 million on Trump hotels, office rental, airfare, catering and other expenses.
Among expenditures by his campaign committee: more than $28,000 on Jan. 25 to Bannon Strategic Advisors, the firm of his chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, for “administrative assistant/secretarial” services.