Top GOP officials are worried that former President Donald Trump’s barrage of fundraising emails could crowd out other Republicans and harm efforts to compete with Democratic fundraising hauls, Axios reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, Trump’s two political action committees — Save America and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee — brought in more money last year through GOP payment processor WinRed than the combined haul of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. By year’s end, Trump’s fundraising arms had $122 million in the bank. The number would have been even higher had the Trump campaign not been forced to refund millions to those who unwittingly agreed to make multiple increasing donations because of shady fundraising tactics.
Trump’s committees are still sending out deceptive emails, as Shane Goldmacher of The New York Times pointed out on Wednesday.
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) February 17, 2022
Republican strategists, all four of whom spoke to Axios on the condition of anonymity, cited several potential risks of Trump continuing to spam his donor base. These included donor burnout, the heavy focus on Trump’s brand, and other Republicans having to struggle to raise money. “Conservative donors are getting 6, 12, maybe even two dozen fundraising emails or text messages every single day,” one strategist said. “And the chances of them opening yours, let alone reading, clicking and donating, is pretty small to begin with. If you include Trump in that … your competition for the inboxes of donors just goes through the roof. … It makes it so much more difficult to convert any of these people.”
Another possible drawback is that Trump could hoard funds instead of using them to benefit the party as a whole. ABC News reported earlier this month that Trump said his committees have donated only $1.35 million to “like-minded causes and endorsed candidates,” which is only a small fraction of the $120 million-plus his committees have on hand.
It doesn’t appear like the fundraising push is slowing down any time soon, either. Since Jan. 1 of this year, the Trump groups have sent 14 emails per day, according to the Defending Democracy Together Institute. The frequency has risen steadily since last July, when Trump’s PACs were only sending around three emails per day.
Trump’s allies have defended the former president’s fundraising practices. “No one in the history of the Republican Party has done more to grow the donor pool at every level than President Donald J. Trump, something that pays untold dividends to Republican candidates and causes across the nation,” Taylor Budowich, a spokesperson for Trump, told Axios.
Brad Parscale, who ran Trump’s digital operation in 2016 before serving as one of his 2020 campaign managers, weighed in on Thursday. “So you’re saying: ‘Why don’t you cut back your fundraising and let us act like we are Trump so we can have some of his donations. We can’t figure out how to do it with our boring candidates, so let us fake being your popular candidate.’ Yeah, sure,'” he tweeted.
Regardless of the GOP’s unease with Trump’s fundraising apparatus, the Republican National Committee was still able to out-raise its Democratic counterpart in 2021, $159 million to $151 million. House Republicans recently overtook Democrats, too.