Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Today is the LAST DAY of this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

TODAY is the last day to meet our goal -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year.

President Donald Trump makes a phone call as he golfs at Trump National Golf Club on November 26, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia.

President Donald Trump makes a phone call as he golfs at Trump National Golf Club on November 26, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

'All About the Grift': Trump Reportedly Raises Over $150 Million for Non-Existent 'Election Defense Fund'

"Small donors who give to Trump thinking they are financing an 'official election defense fund' are in fact helping pay down the Trump campaign's debt or funding his post-presidential political operation."

Jake Johnson

After bombarding supporters daily with emails blaring lies about the election and soliciting donations to overcome virtually non-existent voter fraud, President Donald Trump's political operation has reportedly raised more than $150 million since November 3, a staggering windfall that is being funneled into a Republican joint fundraising committee and a Trump PAC established to fuel his post-White House activities.

While the Trump team's aggressive emails—sometimes as many as 15 per day—purport to be raising money for an "Official Election Defense Fund" set up to finance the president's flailing legal effort to overturn the election, the fund does not exist.

"The average donor who gives in response to Trump's appeal for funds to 'stop the fraud' likely doesn't realize that their money is actually retiring Trump's debt or funding his leadership PAC."
—Brendan Fischer, Campaign Legal Center

"There is no such account," the Washington Post reported late Monday. "The fundraising requests are being made by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee that raises money for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. As of November 18, that committee also shares its funds with Save America, a new leadership PAC that Trump set up in early November and which he can use to fund his post-presidency activities."

Observers said the post-election fundraising initiative has all the markings of a shameless grift, with much of the money likely going toward paying off the Trump campaign's debts, financing events at the president's properties, and other purposes. The Post noted that "there are very few limitations on how money going to" the Trump leadership PAC can be spent.

Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), told the Post that "small donors who give to Trump thinking they are financing an 'Official Election Defense Fund' are in fact helping pay down the Trump campaign's debt or funding his post-presidential political operation."

"The average donor who gives in response to Trump's appeal for funds to 'stop the fraud' likely doesn't realize that their money is actually retiring Trump's debt or funding his leadership PAC," Fischer said, pointing out that "only bigger donors who've maxed-out to Trump's campaign or the RNC will see any portion of their contribution go to dedicated recount or legal funds."

Buried in the fine print of the early barrage of Trump's post-election fundraising emails, as Common Dreams reported last month, was language informing those who read far enough that a percentage of donations would go toward "general election debt retirement."

"According to the fine print in the latest fundraising appeals," the Post reported, "75% of each contribution to the joint fundraising committee would first go toward the Save America leadership PAC and the rest would be shared with the party committee, to help with the party's operating expenses. This effectively means that the vast majority of low-dollar donations under the current agreement would go toward financing the president’s new leadership PAC, instead of efforts to support the party or to finance voting lawsuits."

News of the Trump operation's massive fundraising haul came shortly after two additional battleground states, Wisconsin and Arizona, certified President-elect Joe Biden's victories there and dealt yet another blow to the president's disastrous court fight.

In a tweet late Monday, Rob Flaherty, digital director for the Biden campaign, called Trump's "election defense" fundraising ploy a "plain and simple grift."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

TODAY is the last day of our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Biden Urged to Embrace Windfall Tax as Exxon Says Profits Doubled in Second Quarter

"It's time for the president to demand that Congress pass a windfall profits tax on Big Oil and use the revenue to provide rebates to consumers NOW!" wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Jake Johnson ·


Texas Supreme Court Allows Century-Old Abortion Ban to Take Effect

"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences."

Jake Johnson ·


'What's There to Even Discuss?' Omar Says Free, Universal School Meals Should Be Permanent

"We have an opportunity to prove that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can still deliver big things. And we can feed tens of millions of hungry kids while we do it."

Jake Johnson ·


'Stark Betrayal': Biden Administration Floats New Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

"This is the third time since November the Biden administration has announced new oil and gas leasing plans on the Friday before a holiday," said one climate advocate. "They're ashamed, and they should be."

Jake Johnson ·


As US Rolls Back Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

"I'm hopeful today's announcement gives activists in the U.S., and especially Black women given the shared history, a restored faith that change is possible and progress can be made."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo