Trump’s PAC may be “a textbook example of a political slush fund” says Issue One’s Meredith McGehee as group raises $31.5 million in less than 8 weeks

A campaign finance report filed on Sunday night shows that Save America PAC, a leadership PAC formed by President Donald Trump on Nov. 9 that has few restrictions on how it spends the money it raises, collected a jaw-dropping $31.5 million from donors between its creation and the end of 2020.

That’s the equivalent of roughly $600,000 every day of its existence.

As Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee recently told Business Insider: “Trump’s Save America PAC may very well be a textbook example of a political slush fund. While Trump could use the money he raises for this PAC to support like-minded candidates, Trump may also use these funds to cover travel, lodging, dining, legal expenses, or entertainment expenses like golfing — including at Trump properties — for years to come.”

And as Issue One Research Director Michael Beckel recently told ABC News: “It is extremely uncommon for an outgoing president to be so aggressively soliciting contributions for a leadership PAC.”

By comparison, only a small portion of members of Congress typically raise more than $1 million for their own leadership PACs over a two-year election cycle. 

In fact, Trump’s Save America PAC raised more than 2.5 times as much money as the best-funded congressional leadership PAC of the 2020 election cycle, that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), whose “PAC to the Future” raised $11.7 million between January 1, 2019, and December 30, 2020.

And Trump’s Save America PAC raised more than six times as much money as the best-funded congressional leadership PAC associated with a single Republican member of Congress, that of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), whose Majority Committee PAC raised $5.2 million between January 1, 2019, and December 30, 2020.

For years, Issue One, in conjunction with the Campaign Legal Center, has regularly highlighted how some politicians use their leadership PACs to pay for expensive meals, rounds of golf, and luxury hotel stays — often under the guise of fundraising — while contributing little, if any, money to like-minded candidates. And both organizations have urged Congress and the Federal Election Commission to adopt policies that would prohibit politicians from using leadership PAC funds for personal use — a rule that currently applies to politicians’ official campaign committees.

Table: Top 12 leadership PACs of members of Congress during the 2020 election cycle

Rank PAC Name Sponsor Total Raised
1 PAC to the Future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) $11.7 million
2 AmeriPAC: The Fund for a Greater America House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) $7.5 million
3 Majority Committee PAC House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) $5.2 million
4 The Guardian Fund Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) $5 million
5 Frontline USA Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) $3 million
6 The Eye of the Tiger PAC House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) $2.9 million
7 Off the Sidelines PAC Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) $2.8 million
8 Bluegrass Committee Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) $2.2 million
9 Medicare for All PAC Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)  $2.2 million
10 America Works PAC Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) $2.1 million
11 Heartland Values PAC Senate Republican Whip John Thune (R-SD) $1.9 million
12 Common Ground PAC Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)  $1.9 million

 

Source: Issue One analysis of Federal Election Commission data. Note: Fundraising figures shown represent money raised between January 1, 2019, and December 31, 2020.