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article imageThose recount donations the GOP wants? - Read the fine print

By Karen Graham     Nov 12, 2020 in Politics
As President Donald Trump seeks to discredit last week's election with baseless claims of voter fraud, his team has bombarded his supporters with requests for money to help pay for legal challenges to the results.
Email solicitations from Trump's team and messages on the Republican National Committee's @GOP Twitter feed are urging supporters to donate money to the "Official Election Defense Fund." Otherwise, "the Left will try to STEAL this election!" reads one text.
The emailed solicitations refer donors to the “Official Election Defense Fund” website. There - supporters are asked to sign up for recurring donations to “protect the results and keep fighting even after Election Day," reports Reuters.
However, if Trump supporters are like most people, they need to read the fine print before they hand over their hard-earned funds. A review of the legal language reveals that a donor would have to shell out $8,000 before any money goes to the "recount account" established to finance election challenges, including recounts and lawsuits over alleged improprieties, according to the fund-raising disclosures.
A big chunk (60 percent) of small-dollar donations up to $8,000 will go to a new Political Action Committee (PAC) started by Trump called "Save America." It was started on Monday this week by the Republican National Committee (RNC). The other 40 percent of those small donations go to the RNC, according to USNews.
It boils down to this - Under Federal Election Commission rules, both groups have broad leeway in how they can use the funds. That information in fine print has to be disclosed, but the RNC is hoping supporters of Trump's claims of voter fraud won't read the fine print too closely.
This means that, before a dollar goes into the "recount fund," the Save America PAC would receive $5,000 and the RNC around $3,300. Donations to the recount committee are legally limited to $2,800. So, if a donor gave $500, for instance, $300 would go to Trump's Save America PAC, $200 would to the RNC - and nothing would go to his election defense fund, reports Politico.
One Republican political strategist says Trump is misleading his supporters. "It's important to be upfront with people - especially those who are digging deep into their pockets to come up with $25,” said Michael DuHaime, a former political director at the RNC. “If you tell them it's going for legal fees, well then it should go for legal fees."
Replenishing the coffers
When Trump began his reelection campaign, the team had about $1.6 billion raised over the preceding two years. Trump quickly burned through $1.4 billion, right off the bat. By the middle of October, Trump and his campaign had $223.5 million left and had to scale back on advertising.
By the final three weeks of the campaign, the Trump team had only $43 million to play with while the Democrats had $432 million in cash for the final stretch, including $177.3 million in Biden’s campaign.
Here's a final word, and warning from Larry Noble, former general counsel at the Federal Election Commission. He says Trump's pitch to his base is misleading for donors who don't read the fine print.
“He’s really making a big deal about the challenge to the election, and that may very well be why a lot of people may give without paying attention to, or understanding, what the political language is,” Noble said. “It’s pretty dangerous to our democracy to use attacking our elections as a fundraising tool.”
More about Trump supporters, Official Election Defense Fund, stop the steal, new PAC, Republican national committee
 
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