For the third straight quarter, Donald Trump’s former campaign committee turned in a fundraising loss, shedding $1.2 million to start 2022. And the reason for almost all of the Trump campaign’s money problems is a familiar one: lawyers.
According to a campaign finance disclosure filed in recent days, the committee—“Make America Great Again PAC“—handed over about $1.1 million in legal fees between January and the end of March.
That’s more than 40 percent of the PAC’s $2.6 million in total expenses, for the PAC’s biggest deficit since Trump left office. The $1.4 million it raised barely covered its legal bills.
The loss cut MAGA PAC’s cash on hand from about $6.66 million at year’s end to around $5.47 million as of March 31. The committee, which Trump converted from his old campaign after leaving office, now holds about half the $10.7 million it had at the start of 2021.
In the first half of the year, fresh off of election challenges and an impeachment trial, MAGA PAC ate the vast majority of Trump’s political legal costs—about $7.8 million of the $8 million total. The payouts plummeted in the back half of 2021, with a total $1.7 million spread over those six months, indicating another uptick to kick off 2022.
The biggest winner this quarter was Jesse Binnall, Trump’s top election challenger, whose firm clocked $410,000 for its services. Binnall farms some of those fees out to local counsel, whose names aren’t listed on the reports. One such firm is the Tulsa, Oklahoma, shop Hall Estill, which Binnall retained last year to assist in an ongoing lawsuit alleging civil rights violations at Trump’s COVID comeback rally in June 2020.
MAGA PAC also paid its customary retainer to Elections LLC, a joint venture between three former top campaign aides, which now commands $52,500 a month. (Trump’s Save America joint fundraising committee retains Elections LLC as well.)
Combined, Elections LLC and Binnall’s firm—including the anonymous local subcontractors—absorbed more than half the legal costs on the quarter.
The spike in attorney fees comes after a significant dropoff late last year. That decrease coincided with a rise in the Republican National Committee’s costs, after the GOP agreed to foot Trump’s legal expenses in ongoing investigations into his business practices—up to $1.6 million.
The rest of MAGA PAC’s $2.6 million expense report included the committee’s biggest single payout: $590,000 to a company called 2M Document Management and Imaging, LLC, itemized for “research consulting.”
In all, the secretive Delaware-based entity pocketed about $1.17 million last quarter, already nosing near its 2021 total of $1.6 million. No other political committee has ever paid the company, according to federal data.
Trump’s trifurcated fundraising streams can be tough to follow. Last week, there was a second filing in addition to MAGA PAC, this one from the joint fundraising vehicle Trump shares with the RNC, called Save America—the same name as his leadership PAC. That group raised a total $19 million this quarter, which gets split between Trump groups and the RNC.
Unlike MAGA PAC, however, the joint committee came out on top. It racked up about $8.6 million in operating costs, less than half its haul. Most of that money went to fundraising consultants and advertisers, and unlike MAGA PAC reported no legal fees—outside of a monthly $20,000 to Elections LLC. The committee currently holds about $6.4 million.
But we won’t have a complete picture of Trump’s finances until later this week, when his largest account—Save America leadership PAC, with $110 million in the bank—files its monthly report. We do know that it pulled at least $5.1 million in new transfers from the joint committee.
But as confounding as that all is, one MAGA PAC payment stands out as particularly curious: the one rent check made out to Trump Tower.
While the amount is the normal monthly rate of $37,541.67, there’s only one payment instead of the expected three. And it went to a curious destination—not Trump Tower itself, but a P.O. box in Hicksville, New York, a Long Island town an hour from Fifth Avenue.
The campaign’s rent checks have vacillated over the years between Trump Tower and Hicksville, seemingly at random, with no explanation. However, that mailbox is a short drive from Trump’s longtime accountants, Mazars USA.
MAGA PAC’s last rent check was made out Feb. 11. Three days later, Mazars dropped Trump as a client, citing unreliable financial statements.