Donald Trump’s legal troubles have led to a significant increase in his legal fees, which have been primarily funded by his political action committee (PAC), Save America. The PAC has less than $4 million on hand after siphoning over $101 million to pay legal fees for Trump and his allies since the beginning of 2022. According to its mid-year Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing, Save America PAC has spent approximately $25 million in the first half of 2023, with $21.6 million going to legal fees. PACs are tax-exempt organizations created to raise and spend money to elect and defeat candidates.
They have donation limits for individuals ($5,000 per year) and cannot accept donations from corporate or labor union treasuries. They differ from Super PACs, which can gather unlimited funds from people, corporations, unions, and other PACs to finance campaign expenditures independently. The pro-Trump super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., has sent back $12.25 million of the $13.1 million it raised in 2023 to Save America. This extraordinary shift of money from the super PAC to Trump’s political committee is believed to be larger than any other refund on record in the history of federal campaigns. PACs can use their wealth in any legal way they see fit, including paying for the litigation costs of their candidate.
However, they are subject to financial regulations and reporting requirements, and failing to address negative fund balances and financial issues can lead to regulatory scrutiny and potential penalties. While the drop in fundraising by the Save America PAC may suggest that the small-dollar donor operation that has helped the former president and his allies might be running out of steam, experience tells us that Trump will continue to bet on his legal troubles supplying big donations from his supporters.