President Donald Trump told a crowd of supporters in October that if he really wanted to overcome Joe Biden’s supremacy in fundraising, he could call the heads of any major company and they would come to his aid.
“All I have to do is call the head of every Wall Street company, the head of every big company, the head of every big energy company, ‘Do me a favor, send me $ 10 million for my campaign.’ Yes sir, “Trump told the crowd in Arizona in October.
However, new Federal Election Commission records tracking fundraising from October 15 through November 23 show that wealthy GOP financiers largely failed to help Trump in the final weeks of the bruise battle with Biden when he was in the polls or with the parachute in the millions, his current legal battle fell.
This is the latest sign that many leaders might be ready to work with President-elect Biden. In the case of the dispute, some of the leading party donors had previously exhausted the campaign and the Republican National Committee, leaving Trump’s political team unable to reach out to them for financial assistance.
The Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, its two joint fundraising committees, and the presidential governance committee, Save America, have raised over $ 200 million since election day. Save America will likely be used to fund policy initiatives Trump plans after leaving the White House, including the possible re-running for president in 2024.
While Trump’s anti-fraud doesn’t seem to bother many business leaders, it does seem to resonate with small donors who may believe that their money is being used specifically for anti-fraud purposes and likely have provided much of the money raised during that period.
Steve Schwarzman, CEO of private equity giant Blackstone and longtime Trump confidante, has not contributed to any pro-Trump group in recent weeks, according to election papers. Instead, in November he donated $ 15 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super-PAC aligned with Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
As CNBC reported, Schwarzman was one of the many Wall Street executives who stopped helping Trump in the final leg of the election. Schwarzman said in late November that after supporting the president for the past four years, he was ready to “help President-elect Biden and his team address the significant challenges of rebuilding our post-Covid economy”.
Since Election Day on November 3, the Trump campaign has sparked dozen of legal disputes in states where Biden is believed to be the victor, including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. Trump and his allies have essentially lost or withdrawn all lawsuits related to the election and have not voided any votes for Biden.
Attorney General William Barr said this week that the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread election fraud, let alone fraud that would undo Biden’s planned victory. The campaign spent millions on legal fees associated with the “recount”, including $ 600,000 for the Kasowitz Benson Torres law firm. The firm was founded by longtime Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz.
The Trump campaign called for a partial recount in Wisconsin, which was paid for $ 3 million.
But Reuters reported last month that large chunks of the posts are actually not aimed at reversing the election results, but instead saving America or the Republican National Committee. The fine print on the Trump Election Defense Fund donation page says that “75% of every contribution [goes] up to $ 5,000 first, to save America, “suggesting that much of the contributions to the case are actually going to Trump’s committee for other purposes.
“We have unprecedented financial backing from an ever-growing group of investors, large and small, as President Trump and Republicans continue to battle over the issues that matter to the majority of Americans, including ensuring the integrity of our elections and defending the Republican Majority in the Senate, “RNC deputy communications director Cassie Smedile said in a statement.
Trump campaign officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Trump donor Dan Eberhart told CNBC that many Republican business leaders were not interested in investing in a candidate who had poor public poll numbers in the final weeks of the election or his next political moves. By election day, Biden had gained seven points in a national survey average from Real Clear Politics.
“Only the crazy still believe,” Eberhart told CNBC when he spoke about who is still giving Trump something. “That’s base, true believers,” he added.
A former high-ranking campaign official told CNBC, on condition of anonymity, that big money donors who had not campaigned had shied away until the end of the election campaign because the president had not attended certain face-to-face events because of the coronavirus pandemic and some executives wouldn’t attend if he wasn’t there. This person declined to be named in order to speak freely.
Some GOP mega-donors had spent a lot of money early in the election cycle on Trump’s joint fundraising committees, which allow donors to write six-digit checks, or on pro-Trump super-PACs that accept an unlimited amount of money from contributors. Recently, many have chosen to spend millions on the struggles that are being waged in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Of the major Republican big donors who donated over $ 500 million to Trump and other GOP campaigns combined during the 2020 election cycle, only a handful of companies backed the Commander in Chief during the six-week period from mid-October to late November were .
Among the few Republican megadonors who have spent a lot of money on the president in the last election weeks are casino magnates Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who together donated $ 15 million to the pro-Trump PAC Preserve America. Bernard Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot, donated $ 5 million to the same PAC. The PAC is currently not involved in the president’s legal battle, and records show that these large donations were received in the last two weeks of October.
The new records show that Miriam Adelson recently gave the RNC $ 106,500, as did Marcus. The Adelsons ended the 2020 election cycle and donated at least $ 200 million to Republican efforts.
Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, the founders of the shipping company Uline and longtime Trump supporters, also practically disappeared in the financial support of the president and have recorded only minimal contributions since mid-October. The couple, who recently tested positive for the coronavirus, had previously spent over $ 65 million on GOP-related causes this cycle.
Timothy Mellon, chairman of Pan Am Systems, donated $ 5 million to the Senate Leadership Fund in November. Pro-Trump groups saw very little of him over the same period after donating millions to the President’s cause early in the election campaign.
In September, Ike Perlmutter, chairman of Marvel Entertainment and a renowned external advisor to Trump in the Department of Veterans Affairs, and his wife gave $ 21 million to America First Action. As of mid-October, there has been no record of Perlmutters spending on Trump in the final stages of the campaign.
Even some of Trump’s friends who have supported him in the past seem to distance themselves from the president’s future efforts. Ronald Lauder, the heir to the Estee Lauder Companies and a friend of Trump, donated $ 3.5 million to the Senate Leadership Fund in October. Recent records show that he has not given anything to the president since the late election phases.
CNBC reported in August that Lauder no longer supports Trump.