The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

New Trump PAC raised $31.5 million in the weeks after Election Day, as Trump was making baseless claims of voter fraud

Former president Donald Trump waves as he arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Jan. 20. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Former president Donald Trump’s new political action committee raised $31.5 million in the weeks after Election Day through a flurry of fundraising appeals purporting to fight election fraud and help Republicans maintain their majority in the Senate, new filings show.

But by Jan. 1 — two weeks after the electoral college certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory and days before the two Senate elections in Georgia that tipped control of the chamber to Democrats — he spent no money on either endeavor, according to disclosures made public Sunday evening.

Instead, Trump had held on to the majority of that money in the coffers of Save America, his new leadership PAC, which carries few restrictions on how the money can be spent and can now be used to finance his post-presidential political career.

In all, the official committees supporting Trump and the Republican Party raised more than $290 million since his Nov. 3 election defeat — a staggering amount by an outgoing president that highlights Trump’s lasting influence on the party and its fundraising apparatus.

But the donations took a sharp dive in December, filings show, even as Trump and his allies continued to make baseless claims of widespread election fraud and brought unsuccessful legal challenges to overturn the presidential election results in key battleground states.

The vast majority of the approximately $290 million post-election haul came between Election Day and Nov. 23, filings show. At least $82.6 million of that total was raised from Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, the filing period for the new Federal Election Commission disclosures filed Sunday night.

It is unclear whether Trump maintained his fundraising cachet after a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. That led to his second impeachment, and some Republican lawmakers distanced themselves from his incendiary rhetoric calling into doubt the integrity of the presidential election.

Trump solicits ‘election defense’ donations that also finance his new leadership PAC

Save America spent only about $343,000 of the $31.5 million it raised since it was created after the election, to pay fees to the company that processes its donations, filings show. The committee retained the rest of the donations as of Jan. 1.

The money collected by the leadership PAC cannot be used directly for Trump’s campaign purposes, but there are few other restrictions on how the money can be spent. For example, donations could be used to pay for events at Trump’s properties or to finance his travel or personal expenses.

Leadership PACs are commonly used by current and former members of Congress to raise money for their allies on Capitol Hill through fundraising vehicles separate from their campaign committees.

In addition to Save America, the pro-Trump donations were made to his campaign committee, the Republican National Committee and two committees that raise money for both the campaign and the national party.

Those committees made fundraising appeals using hyperbolic language about voter fraud and election integrity to raise money after the Nov. 3 election, raising so much that they shattered fundraising records set during the campaign.