Donald Trump is facing a cash crunch after burning through $800 million in campaign funds including $11 million on Super Bowl adverts and $156,000 on planes to pull MAGA banners.
Top Republican officials briefed on the budget have been told that the Art of the Deal author needs to reign in his spending just 56 days before Americans go to the polls.
Former campaign manager Brad Parscale, who presided over the profligacy, was replaced in July by Bill Stepien who has introduced various cost-cutting measures and scrapped planned extravagances, such as a $3 million MAGA liveried NASCAR vehicle.
President Donald Trump speaks during campaign MAGA rally at Southern New Hampshire University Arena in August last year
Trump campaign spent $325,000 on the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Florida, for the cancelled RNC convention
Trump splashed $11 million on Super Bowl adverts to match the spending of billionaire Michael Bloomberg
GOP strategist Ed Rollins accused Parscale of spending ‘like a drunken sailor.’
‘If you spend $800 million and you’re 10 points behind (in the polls), I think you’ve got to answer the question, “What was the game plan?” Rollins told the Times.
TRUMP’S CASH SPLASH
$30 million – Trump swag, such as MAGA hats
$21 million – Legal fees since 2019, including a $666,666.67 bill to Reuters News & Media for unspecified ‘legal proceedings – resolution
$11 million – Superbowl commercials
$6 million – ‘Donor mementos’, this includes $337,000 to Hersheys Company, the chocolate maker, for items such as White House-branded M&Ms.
$4 million – Trump family businesses since 2019, including the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and donor retreats to Trump hotels
$1 million – TV adverts in Washington DC
$800,000 – Boosting former campaign manager Brad Parscale’s Facebook and Instagram accounts
$325,000 – Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Florida, for the cancelled RNC convention
$156,000 – Airplanes to haul Trump banners across the sky
$110,000 – Yondr magnetic pouches for donors’ phones to be stored in during fundraising bashes so they can’t record Trump
Parscale’s tenure saw more than $350 million of the $800 million spent on fund-raising operations to find donors.
Other expenses, the Times reported, included $4 million on hosting events at Trump family businesses; his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, donor retreats to Trump hotels and thousands spent in the steakhouse at Trump’s Washington DC hotel.
There was also $110,000 paid to Yondr, a manufacturer of magnetic pouches for cellphones which were used at fundraising soirees to prevent guests from recording Trump.
The campaign had a large team of well-paid staff working at a colossal office in the Virginia suburbs and Parscale is said to have lavished himself with a chauffeur driven car, as well as $800,000 on boosting his Facebook and Instagram profiles.
Parscale was the brains behind a $100 million TV advertising splurge ahead of the convention.
Sources told the paper that some of the spending was purely to please the president rather than strategic.
This included the exorbitant $11 million for Super Bowl commercials, more than was spent on TV in some battleground states, which matched the billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s spend on the game.
A further $1 million was spent on TV advertising in Washington DC, a Democrat stronghold where the president of course lives.
Many of the specifics of the campaign spending are unclear, according to the Times, which said that since 2017 the RNC has routed $227 million through a limited liability company linked to senior Trump officials.
The firm, American Made Media Consultants (AMMC), has placed television and online adverts and allegedly made payments to Lara Trump, wife of the president’s son Eric, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, former Fox News host and girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr.
The Trump campaign has been contacted with regards to the allegations, which are the subject of a Federal Election Commission complaint.
Another $39 million has been paid to Parscale Strategy LLC and Giles-Parscale, run by Parscale since 2017.
Parscale told the Times that he had ‘no ownership or financial interest in AMMC and that he had ‘negotiated a contract with the family for 1 percent of digital ad spend and after becoming campaign manager took no percentage.’
He also said that his spending was ‘under the very close eye of the family’ or ‘in partnership with Ronna McDaniel (the RNC chairwoman).’
Brad Parscale, then manager of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, throws ‘Make America Great Again,’ hats to the audience before a rally in Grand Rapids in March last year
Campaign manager Bill Stepien (right) stands alongside US President Donald Trump as he speaks with reporters aboard Air Force One as he flies from Manchester, New Hampshire to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, August 28
A senior White House official told the Times last month: ‘The campaign was spending all this money on silly things.’
Parscale, who remains a senior campaign adviser, said that his spending to raise online donations had been a huge success.
The Democrats had built up a formidable machinery for reaping online donations during the Barack Obama years.
‘We closed that gap,’ he said, claiming that his strategy was ‘the only reason Republicans are even close.’
Other areas of investment include a vast army of 2,000 staff the GOP has in 200 offices around the country who go out and knock on doors. The party claims to reach one million voters every week.
By comparison the Democrats have decided not to have a door-knocking campaign amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Stepien is now attempting to reign in some of the spending and he’s even elected to take a pay cut.
The number of staff allowed to travel to campaign events has been hacked down and trips of Air Force One have also been cut back.
He also notably reduced spending on TV adverts in the last two weeks of August as the convention was underway.
Biden’s campaign spent $35.9 million on TV during that period, compared to just $4.8 million for Trump.
‘We held on to cash to make sure that we’ll have the firepower that we need’ for the last hard yards, senior Trump strategist Jason Miller told the Times. ‘We want to make sure that we’re saving it for when it really matters, when it’s going to move the needle.’
Miller claimed that the Biden campaigning was throwing money away at a time when TV adverts were not necessary.
‘The most important thing I do every day is pay attention to the budget,’ Stepien said in one brief interview.
There is disagreement within the party over whether there is enough money to keep the heat on Biden, with some believing that in the run-up to the polls there will be a deluge of big donations.
The campaign said it had raised $76 million in the four days during the RNC, but others say they’ve been hit hard by a shortage in $5,600 donations – the maximum for direct campaign giving – which they’d anticipated more of.
The Republican party has not yet revealed how much it earned in donations in August.