It shouldn't exactly come as a surprise that President Trump's post-election fundraising scheme is, shall we say, not entirely on the level. This is, after all, a man who has spent his entire public career both in and out of politics running various moneymaking grifts and enacting complicated financial maneuvers designed to benefit himself, and no one else.
For a time, that blatant enterprise of self-enrichment was tolerated — even encouraged — by conservatives eager to get in good with the president and his equally avaricious brood. But with his administration on its way out the door, and his political future uncertain, Trump's post-election fundraising efforts have started rubbing some members of his party the wrong way. Because, as it turns out — surprise surprise! — even Trump's calls for donations to Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the upcoming crucial Georgia runoff races are less about funding the candidates directly than they are about padding the coffers of his own personal political action committee.
According to multiple sources who spoke with Politico, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has officially queried both the White House and the Republican National Committee, after the fine print on the president's fundraising pitches for the Georgia races revealed that 75% of the money donated through Trump's solicitation would actually go to his newly launched Save America PAC. The remaining 25% would go to the RNC. None of the money goes to the candidates directly.
"Money is speech, and if it can get to the right place it should be used," conservative Georgia United Victory Super PAC chair Martha Zoller told Politico. "But if it’s going to [the president's] leadership PAC and not being spent on the behalf of David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler I think that’s problematic."
Indeed, this is not the first time people have raised concerns that Trump's post-election fundraising blitz is designed to obfuscate just where the money being raised is ending up, and why.
In mid-November, Reuters reported that the president's email blitz asking for donations to his legal challenges against Joe Biden's electoral victory included fine-print language which made it clear (if hard to find) that donations under $8,000 were actually being shunted to the Save America PAC and RNC, rather than the actual legal defense effort. And in the month after polls closed, Trump, the RNC, and their respective PACs have managed to raise a staggering $200 million, despite a number of deep-pocketed mega-donors who opted to sit out this round of transparent self-enrichment.
Ultimately, the question of how much money the president raises, and whom it benefits points to perhaps the single largest unanswered question in Republican politics today: What will Trump do once he's out of office? Will he continue to boost the GOP as its ostensible figurehead and possible returning leader? Or will he do what he's always done, and make sure the cash he's raised throughout his political career remains off limits to anyone not named "Trump"?