WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump is facing a cash crunch as he tries to defend himself in court, freeze the Republican nomination and turn toward a general election rematch with increasingly cash-strapped President Joe Biden.
Campaign finance records filed Wednesday show MAGA Inc., the main super PAC supporting Trump's campaign, spent more than it raised in the last six months of 2023 — primarily by returning $30 million to Save America, the former president's main vehicle for lavish payments. Legal fees. Similarly, Trump's official campaign blew more money than it took in during the last three months of the year.
Trump's recent threats to blackball Republican donors who don't give to him go beyond loyalty: It suggests he needs money, too.
By comparison, Biden's campaign ended the year with $46 million in cash, more than Trump's $33 million before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. Future Forward, the main super PAC backing Biden, had MAGA Inc. at year-end with $24 million, slightly more than $23.3 million in the bank.
Democrats complained Wednesday night that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were hoarding money for campaign purposes instead of legal battles.
“As Donald Trump burns through his various spending sprees, Team Biden-Harris, powered by grassroots donors, is hard at work talking to the voters who will decide this election and building the campaign infrastructure to win in November,” Biden campaign spokesman DJ Tucklow said in a statement.
In a statement, Trump's national press secretary Carolyn Leavitt said of Trump's small-dollar fundraising and voter anxiety, “Joe Biden's record—high inflation, sprawl, crime and chaos. President Trump continues to dominate Biden in every battleground poll. He will take the White House in November. There is more hope than ever that he will return.
Of course, Trump's legal woes were a boon to him in the Republican primary campaign, rallying GOP voters to his cause because, without evidence, Biden used the Justice Department to target him and accuse his campaign of thigh-slapping.
In that sense, Trump is banking on the allegations he faces as a key part of his strategy to defeat Biden in November. They have been instrumental in raising funds and dispatching Republican opponents.
According to a fundraising report filed Wednesday by WinRed, the GOP's main online fundraising site, Trump raised $4.2 million online the day his mug shot was released in August following his arrest in a Georgia election interference case. It was the most Trump raised online in a single day last year.
Now, Trump will hope his legal woes will energize GOP loyalists for the general election and help persuade voters who might otherwise be forced to oust Biden.
Trump continues to excel at small-dollar fundraising. While 18% of Biden's fourth-quarter contributions came from donors who gave the maximum amount to his campaign, only 6% of Trump's money came from donors who gave the $6,600 threshold.
That means Trump is in a good position to go back to the well for additional contributions from donors who can still give legally.
MAGA Inc. A spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on its campaign finance filing Wednesday night.
Both candidates expanded their operations in the last quarter of the year as they began to transform from the initial scale of new campaigns into more robust general election machines. Trump had 78 on the payroll, while Biden had 74, according to their campaign disclosures.
Trump's numbers are in
MAGA Inc., which can legally receive an unlimited amount of donations, raised $47.8 million from July 1 to December 31, including the Robert F. Contributions from Kennedy Jr.'s backer, Timothy Mellon, included $10 million. .'s presidential ambitions and more than $5 million from Linda McMahon, a former Trump administration cabinet official.
But the super PAC spent $55.4 million in the same period, leaving $23.3 million in the bank at year's end. The $30 million spent on transfers to Save America — and, ultimately, Trump's lawyers — was nearly 50% more than the $20.4 million paid for ads in the final six months of 2023, according to an NBC News analysis of campaign finance reports Wednesday. .
Trump's campaign took in $19.1 million from October to December — less than 60% of the Biden campaign's $33 million haul — and spent $23.6 million.
The campaign spent $97,000 on facility rental and catering at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. But big-ticket items cost $7.6 million for advertising, $3.7 million for legal advice, $1.7 million for air travel and stage events, and $1.6 million for wages, according to an NBC News analysis.
Because the filings last only until the end of last year, it's impossible to know how much Trump raised and spent in the month since then. But he has added high-dollar fundraising events to his calendar in recent days, including one near his Palm Beach home this week and one at his Mar-a-Lago resort next month, according to the source.
Inside Biden's numbers
Without a serious primary challenger, Biden has been able to focus his money on communicating to voters about himself and Trump. Representative Dean Phillips, Democrat of Minnesota, is in a long-shot bid for the party's presidential nomination, lending his campaign $4 million last quarter and raising another $1 million from donors.
Biden spent $19.3 million in the final quarter of the year, $12 million of which went to creating and placing ads. Combined with $2 million for texting voters, communications dominate Biden's spending.
Aside from those expenses, his biggest expenses were wages and payroll taxes, which totaled about $3 million.
As an advantage of being in office, Biden has been able to coordinate fundraising with his national party throughout the campaign. The Democratic National Committee recently reported $21 million on hand earlier this year, and big donors have been pouring money into state Democratic Party accounts through a Biden campaign fundraiser.
With a primary campaign on the GOP side, Trump couldn't use the Republican National Committee — which ended up with an $8 million bankroll — as a part of his campaign in the same way. The RNC is officially neutral in the primary campaign, although party chairwoman Rona McDaniel recently called on the GOP to rally around Trump, whom she described as the “ultimate candidate.”