That means the Republican National Committee’s biggest contributors could end up having shelled out as much as $1.6 million to support Trump’s 2020 reelection over the course of the four-year election cycle, according to a Washington Post analysis.
Trump has raised and spent more money than his predecessors, and this change is expected to give him a further fundraising advantage. Trump entered 2020 with nearly $200 million in cash, party officials said — a huge war chest that outstrips the resources of his Democratic opponents as they head into primary contests.
It is the latest example of the dramatically expanding fundraising power of national party committees, made possible through pivotal legal changes in 2014 that loosened restrictions on individual contributions. While a person can give a maximum of $5,600 to Trump’s campaign committee, a donor can legally give 103 times more in support of Trump’s reelection through the new joint fundraising arrangement.
Trump Victory, which had been raising money for Trump 2020 and the RNC, was able to raise the top giving level by signing up 22 state parties to raise money together, which allows the committee to raise its contribution cap. The number of state parties supported through Trump Victory could expand, raising the possibility that the maximum contribution could grow even larger.
Both major political parties have taken advantage of this maneuver. Hillary Clinton was the first presidential candidate to establish a joint fundraising committee when she was a front-runner in the 2016 Democratic primaries, collecting up to $356,100 per year per donor for her White House bid, with the Democratic National Committee and 32 state parties. Trump and the RNC then set up their own joint effort, Trump Victory, asking donors for as much as $449,400 in 2016.
These joint committees have allowed presidential candidates to collect massive sums from their party’s top donors. The Hillary Victory Fund raised $530 million in 2015 and 2016, federal filings show. Trump Victory raised $108 million in the 2016 election cycle.
“With this agreement, the RNC, Trump campaign, and state parties will continue our massive fundraising advantage which allows for the largest data-driven ground game in Party history,” Mandi Merritt, an RNC spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Try as they may, Democrats can’t compete.”
The new agreement highlights the GOP’s efforts to boost Trump’s reelection war chest with an infusion of big donations — a shift from Trump’s first run for president, when he criticized opponents for relying on the help of rich contributors.
Trump also is supported by a second joint fundraising group, Trump Make America Great Again Committee. The committee can receive as much as $360,600 per donor per year but is typically used to raise smaller donations.
Trump’s reelection campaign, the RNC and the two joint fundraising committees together have already scooped up a staggering $463 million in 2019, party officials said. In comparison, then-President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party raised roughly $220 million in 2011, the year before Obama’s reelection.
On Wednesday, former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle was announced as the national chair of Trump Victory’s Finance Committee — an effort to draw on Guilfoyle’s star power to recruit a national network of well-connected fundraisers to bring in large checks to the committee.
“The ability to accept the mega MAGA check is another nail in the eventual Democratic nominee’s coffin — and it’s a big nail,” said Dan Eberhart, a prominent Trump donor. “When the Democrats finally settle on a nominee in July, the lucky candidate is going to be nipping at the heels of a giant mastiff.”
The Democratic National Committee has been raising money through a joint fundraising committee as well, soliciting an even higher maximum check of $865,000 per year to raise money for the Democratic Party and the 50 state parties and the Democratic Party of the District of Columbia. But because there is no nominee yet, none of the current Democratic candidates can benefit from that fundraising.
The Democratic presidential field together has outraised pro-Trump committees in 2019, which Democratic strategists say is a sign of mounting financial support that will coalesce for the eventual nominee. But much of the money raised by the candidates so far is likely to be spent by the time the nominee is chosen, leaving the nominee and the party needing to ramp up fundraising efforts quickly after the convention.
The DNC raised $28 million in the final three months of 2019, officials said Tuesday. Between the DNC and the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund, the party raised $95 million for 2019, officials said Tuesday — which they said was greater than the annual total in 2015 when the party held the White House.
The official fundraising figures from both parties will be made public by the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 31.