Spending by Donald Trump’s Save America PAC surged in August to more than $6.3 million – its highest monthly total of the year – as the former President waged court battles over the FBI’s search of his waterfront Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
More than $3.8 million of that money – or more than $6 out of $10 spent by Trump’s leadership PAC last month – went to legal fees, according to filings Tuesday night with the Federal Election Commission. The largest legal expense was a single payment of $3 million to the trust account of a West Palm Beach, Florida, law firm.
The PAC’s post-election fundraising has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks. CNN reported earlier this month that a federal grand jury had issued subpoenas that seek information related to the formation, fundraising and expenditures of Save America.
Leadership PACs, fundraising tools to help politicians support other candidates, operate under looser rules than committees tied to active candidates – giving Trump the leeway to use donors’ money for personal expenses if he chooses. The PAC’s spending on legal fees in August was four times what it spent on legal expenses the previous month – as the former President, who has not been charged with a crime, faces increasing legal concerns.
The new filings show Save America made one large federal contribution last month, sending $150,000 on August 3 to Wyoming Values – a super PAC that worked to defeat a top Trump target, Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney.
Cheney, one of Trump’s fiercest critics on Capitol Hill, lost the Republican primary to Trump-backed Harriet Hageman on August 16.
Trump’s PAC entered September with more than $92 million in cash reserves, according to the new filings – one of the healthier bank accounts in GOP politics. By comparison, the National Republican Senatorial Committee – the GOP fundraising arm charged with flipping the Senate – started September and the sprint to Election Day with just $16 million remaining in the bank.
Trump has faced public pressure to provide more financial help to Republican Senate candidates, some of whom are struggling to compete financially with their Democratic rivals ahead of November’s general election. In Arizona, for instance, Trump-endorsed political newcomer Blake Masters had raised nearly $5 million through the end of June, the most recent candidate filings show, while Sen. Mark Kelly, the Democrat he’s trying to unseat, had collected $54 million.
In an email to CNN on Tuesday night, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said the former President “has been completely invested in seeing his endorsed candidates win.”
And he said Trump’s frequent rallies for candidates “serve as the most powerful political weapon in American politics” and “bring out new voters and invaluable media attention that propel candidates to victory on Election Day.”
Trump is scheduled to hold a rally Friday in Wilmington, North Carolina, to support his slate of endorsed candidates there.
But some Republican strategists are questioning the value of those events after a recent rally in Ohio, where Trump crudely mocked the candidate he had endorsed in the US Senate contest, GOP nominee J.D. Vance, as desperate for his support.
Most candidates would “much rather have somebody come in with a lot of money to drive home your message, rather than a one-day event where you can’t control what the main attraction is going to say,” said Doug Heye, a veteran Republican strategist and former spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
With control of the Senate on the line, deep-pocketed Republican groups have stepped up to fill the gap, including the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC affiliated with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. It has committed to spending more than $185 million on Senate contests. (The McConnell-aligned super PAC announced Tuesday that it was pulling its remaining ad reservations for the month of October out of Arizona, citing increased spending by other Republican groups, including Our American Century.)
New filings with the Federal Election Commission show Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn donated $10 million to Our American Century last month.
That committee has spent nearly $7 million in key states – including advertising to aid Republican Mehmet Oz’s Senate bid in Pennsylvania and to oppose several Democratic senators seeking reelection.
CNN’s Michael Warren and David Wright contributed to this report.