A fund set up to help pay legal expenses incurred by aides to President Trump drawn into the Russia investigation raised about $200,000 in four months, with most of the money coming from some of the president’s most prolific donors, according to documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
The largest check came from longtime friend Geoffrey Palmer, a California real estate developer, who donated $100,000, according to the filing, which was submitted to the IRS in July and provided to The Washington Post by the fund Monday. Palmer also has given to America First Action, a super PAC supporting Trump’s legislative agenda.
Other donors included casino businessman Phillip Ruffin, who gave $50,000. Continental Resources, an oil company headed by another longtime supporter, Harold Hamm, gave $25,000.
An additional $22,000 came from ProActive Communications, a media company set up by Mark Serrano, the spokesman for the fund. The remaining money came from donors who contributed less than the minimum required for disclosure.
The Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust was set up in February to support key associates questioned but not indicted in the probes conducted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Congress to investigate Russian efforts to interfere in U.S. elections.
Several dozen White House employees and former campaign staffers have been questioned in the probes so far.
The IRS filing, which was provided to The Post by a representative of the fund, shows that the fund collected $202,532 through June 30, and that the only payments were to the accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen and Petra RMS, a risk management firm based in Alabama.
The fund’s representative did not respond to questions about how donations were solicited or whether any individual received money through the fund for legal services.
Donations to legal defense funds for public officials usually are capped at a certain amount, though paperwork filed with the Office of Government Ethics in January by the fund’s founder listed no limitations.
Contributions to similar legal funds set up to assist President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton in the 1990s were voluntarily capped at $1,000 for the first fund and $10,000 for the second, according to research by Ellen Aprill, a tax law expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.