Health Companies Gave Generously To President Trumps Inauguration
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Facing acute risks to their businesses from Washington, D.C., policymakers, health companies spent more than $2 million to buy access to the incoming Trump administration via candlelight dinners, black-tie balls and other U.S. presidential inauguration events, new filings show.
Drugmaker Pfizer gave $1 million to help finance the inauguration, according to documents filed with the U.S. Federal Election Commission. Amgen, another pharmaceutical company, donated $500,000. Health insurers Anthem, Centene and Aetna all gave six-figure contributions.
They joined a surge of corporate donors from multiple industries to break inauguration-finance records even as then-President-elect Donald Trump promised to drain the swamp of Washington influence-peddling.
But the stakes for the health industry were especially high as the new administration prepared to take power.
Two weeks before Pfizers donation, Trump told Time magazine, Im going to bring down drug prices. At the same time, one of his top goals was repealing Obamacare the Affordable Care Act and its billions in subsidies for insurance companies and hospitals.
Trump Shifted Donor Money Into His Business After Leaving The White House
Ecstatic supporters cheer on the former president at a rally in Wellington, Ohio, on June 26.
Tony Dejak/AP Photo
Donald Trump never gave a penny to his 2020 presidential campaign. But lots of other people donated, even after Trump left the White House in January. The next month, his campaign committee filed a document showing it had changed its name to the Make America Great Again PAC. And while his supporters kept chipping into the pot, Trump kept taking money out of it, using his businesses to charge the group for rent. In this way, the former president shifted $203,000 from his political donors to his private businesses after leaving the White House, according to an analysis of the latest federal filings.
In addition, Trump set up a so-called leadership PAC, a type of fundraising committee that politicians often use to support candidates, named Save America. In December 2020, one of Trumps old committeeswhich gathered money on behalf of both the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committeetransferred $30 million of seed money to Save America. The group raised more from Trump supporters across the country, building up a war chest of $90 million by the end of June. For his part, the former president also drew money from that pot, using his hotel empire to charge Save America another $79,000 after leaving office, according to the analysis.
How Trump Steered Supporters Into Unwitting Donations
Online donors were guided into weekly recurring contributions. Demands for refunds spiked. Complaints to banks and credit card companies soared. But the money helped keep Donald Trumps struggling campaign afloat.
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Stacy Blatt was in hospice care last September listening to Rush Limbaughs dire warnings about how badly Donald J. Trumps campaign needed money when he went online and chipped in everything he could: $500.
It was a big sum for a 63-year-old battling cancer and living in Kansas City on less than $1,000 per month. But that single contribution federal records show it was his first ever quickly multiplied. Another $500 was withdrawn the next day, then $500 the next week and every week through mid-October, without his knowledge until Mr. Blatts bank account had been depleted and frozen. When his utility and rent payments bounced, he called his brother, Russell, for help.
What the Blatts soon discovered was $3,000 in withdrawals by the Trump campaign in less than 30 days. They called their bank and said they thought they were victims of fraud.
It felt, Russell said, like it was a scam.
Contributors had to wade through a fine-print disclaimer and manually uncheck a box to opt out.
It should be in textbooks of what you shouldnt do, he said.
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Are Campaign Contributions Subject To Taxes
All political organizations are subject to taxation under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code. As such, they may have filing requirements with the IRS. Donors who wish to make contributions to political campaigns should note that they do not count as charitable donations and, therefore, cannot be used to claim a tax deduction.
Donald J Trump Foundation
|1988 34 years ago|
The Donald J. Trump Foundation was a New York-based tax-exemptprivate foundation formed in 1988 by Donald Trump and existed until its court-ordered and court-supervised dissolution in 2019. It was formed by Trump to receive his share of the royalties from his book Trump: The Art of the Deal, as well as donations from outsiders, to be applied to charitable causes. Trump served as its president until January 2017, three days after his inauguration as U.S. President. Trump’s three adult children Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr. all served on the board, which had not met after 1999. Trump stopped contributing to the foundation in 2008, but continued to solicit donations.
The foundation’s activities came under scrutiny during the 2016 presidential election campaign, initially by The Washington Post‘sDavid Fahrenthold. Law enforcement investigators subsequently discovered various ethical and legal violations, including failure to register in New York, self-dealing and illegal campaign contributions. In December 2016, Trump tried to dissolve the foundation, but the New York State Attorney General‘s office blocked dissolution pending completion of its investigations.
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The Doj Could Take Criminal Action But It’s Not A Usual Move
Gross points out that even if the FEC doesn’t end up acting to enforce any campaign finance violations, there’s a back-and-forth process that could take place, which can be laborious.
For example, a complainant could sue the FEC for failing to act on a violation. If a judge thinks there’s a clear violation, they could take the case back to the FEC and tell them to find a violation. If the FEC still doesn’t act, a judge could give a private right to action, which would mean that the complainant could sue the violator directly, without the commission’s involvement.
It’s a difficult and rare process, Gross said, but the Campaign Legal Center has filed several lawsuits. And a pro-Democratic PAC, American Bridge, did recently file a lawsuit against the FEC for failing to act over Trump teasing a 2024 bid for the White House.
Another option is for the Department of Justice to take criminal action.
“They could bring a criminal case against Trump and it’s a felony statute. But those are rare. But if it was absolute knowing and willing violation of the law, that is a potential as a possibility,” Gross said.
The problem, Gross points out, is that the DOJ stepping in to take criminal action may come across as a direct political attack on Trump during an election.
“Whether the DOJ would go there … I don’t know. Plus, this would go right to the heart of his candidacy,” Gross said. “It’s possible legally but politically, probably not likely.”
The Former Presidents Political Fundraising Surged To Over $1 Million A Day Last Week After Sagging Earlier This Year
Former president Donald Trump bombarded his supporters with more than 100 emails asking for money based on the FBIs search of the Mar-a-Lago Club for classified materials last week. They paid off.
Contributions to Trumps political action committee topped $1 million on at least two days after the Aug. 8 search of his Palm Beach, Fla., estate, according to two people familiar with the figures. The daily hauls jumped from a level of $200,000 to $300,000 that had been typical in recent months, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss nonpublic information.
The donations stayed unusually high for several more days and are still above average, both of these people said, though they have leveled off in recent days. There are more contributors than usual, these people said, and the average donation has climbed.
The influx comes at a crucial time for Trump as he considers an early announcement for a 2024 presidential campaign and has seen dwindling returns on his online fundraising solicitations earlier this year. The former presidents PAC brought in $36 million in the first half of the year, dropping below $50 million in a six-month period for the first time since he left office, according to Federal Election Commission data.
A Trump spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
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Trump Directed $250 Million In Donations To Leadership Pac
Former U.S. President Donald Trump raised $250 million in donations in the weeks after the November 2020 presidential election for an organization ostensibly intended to fund court challenges in support of his false claims that the election was fraudulent. Instead, he directed that money to an unrelated political action committee, or PAC, according to congressional investigators.
In its second hearing about its findings, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol made the case that the former president knew that he had lost the election but continued raising money from his supporters by sending out appeals for donations to an Election Defense Fund.
The committee played recordings of depositions given by former employees of Trump’s campaign, one of whom said, “I don’t believe there is actually a fund called the Election Defense Fund.”
Another former Trump campaign staffer said the fund was simply a “marketing tactic.”
Money went to leadership PAC
The committee said some of the money Trump’s campaign raised in the weeks after the election went to paying down campaign debt and into the coffers of the Republican National Committee. A large amount also went to a new leadership PAC called Save America, which was formed three days after the election.
Under law, politicians with leadership PACs have broad latitude to spend the money they collect as they see fit.
Spending connected to Trump allies
Unethical but not illegal
Grants To The National Museum Of Catholic Art And Library
In each of 1995 and 1999, the Trump Foundation granted $50,000 to the National Museum of Catholic Art and Library. A 2001 report by The Village Voice stated, after visiting the museum in East Harlem, that the facility had “next to no art” and no official connection to the Catholic church, despite a ten-year record of having solicited large-scale donations for its collection. The Voice and, later, The Washington Post, concluded that Trump may have directed the grants to the museum to curry favor with the museum’s then-chairman, Eddie Malloy, who was also head of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. The council had worked on behalf of one of the unions of workers who worked on Trump construction projects.
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Coordinating Foundation Grants With Trump’s Presidential Campaign
Trump may have used Trump Foundation grants to advance his presidential campaign, in violation of rules barring charities from engaging in political activity. Trump distributed at least some of the funds publicly at “Donald Trump for President” rallies, displaying large-size donation checks that included his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” or a link to a campaign website.
Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg testified in an October 2017 deposition that he had witnessed Donald Trump’s campaign staff coordinate with Trump to use the Iowa fundraiser to benefit the campaign. In 2018, New York State attorney generalBarbara Underwood alleged in a larger suit against the foundation that Trump, in using the foundation to promote his campaign during and after the Iowa fundraiser, had violated charities laws.
Forbes Found 133 Billionaires Or Spouses Of Billionaires Who Donated To Trumps Campaign Ahead Of The 2020 Election They Built Their Fortunes In 17 Industries
Some clearly benefited from having a friend in the White House. Miriam Adelson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Kelcy Warren, chief executive of Energy Transfer Partners, got clearance for his Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as a seat on the board of trustees at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Harold Hamm, the oil baron, became an informal advisor. Linda McMahon, who is married to WWE Chief Executive Vince McMahon, accepted a role as head of the Small Business Administration, before moving on to chair a pro-Trump super-PAC named America First Action.
On average, the donors contributed about $285,000 to the Trump campaign and its joint-fundraising committees, which split their hauls with the Republican Party. About 9% of Trumps billionaire donors, however, gave less than $5,000. At least 19 also donated to pro-Trump super-PACs. Unlike other types of political committees, super-PACs can accept unlimited amounts of money. The Adelsons, for instance, gave $90 million to a pro-Trump super-PAC called Preserve America. Marvel Entertainment billionaire Isaac Perlmutter and his wife, Laura, gave $21 million to America First. Kelcy Warren donated $10 million to the same group.
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What Are The Fees Charged When Using Your Credit Card To Donate To A Political Candidate
Campaigns, like all other businesses that take credit cards, have assessed transaction fees that decrease the amount of the actual contribution, Melanie Sloan, former executive director of watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, tells CNBC Select.
Just asgrocery stores and retailers have to pay a fee to accept credit cards, so do political candidates. When you give money to a political campaign or candidate using your credit card, a processing fee is taken as a percentage of that donation. There is usually a per-transaction fee charged as well.
For example, PayPal, one of the most popular electronic payment platforms, charges a processing fee of 2.9%, plus $0.30 per transaction. Raise The Money, another fundraising platform for candidates, has a processing fee of 4.9%, plus $0.25 per contribution. If you were to use the latter to make a donation, a $50 contribution would really end up being $47.30 in the campaign’s pockets.
This means that although websites say that they accept donations as small as $1, be mindful that these small-dollar contributions actually end up being eaten up by fees. In fact, the smaller the donation, the larger the percentage of it will go toward the fixed processing and per-transaction fees, rather than the candidate or campaign. So while every dollar may count, that doesn’t necessarily mean it goes toward your intended purpose.
The Gary And Gerrit Operation
Where did all the money go? he would lash out, according to two senior advisers.
Inside the Trump re-election headquarters in Northern Virginia, the pressure was building to wring ever more money out of his supporters.
Perhaps nowhere was that pressure more acute than on Mr. Trumps expansive and lucrative digital operation. That was the unquestioned domain of Gary Coby, a 30-something strategist whose title digital director and microscopic public profile belied his immense influence on the Trump operation, especially online.
A veteran of the R.N.C. and the 2016 race, Mr. Coby had the confidence, trust and respect of Jared Kushner, the presidents son-in-law, who unofficially oversaw the 2020 campaign, according to people familiar with the campaigns operations. Mr. Kushner and the rest of the campaign leadership gave Mr. Coby, whose talents are recognized across the Republican digital industry, wide latitude to raise money however he saw fit.
That meant almost endless optimization and experimentation, sometimes pushing the traditional boundaries. The Trump team repeatedly used phantom donation matches and faux deadlines to loosen donor wallets . Eventually it ratcheted up the volume of emails it sent until it was barraging supporters with an average of 15 per day for all of October and November 2020.
The campaigns determine their own fund-raising strategies and make their own decisions on how to use these tools, Mr. Lansing said in WinReds statement.
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Law Firms Linked To Jan 6 Probe Get Pac Payments
According to Save America PACs new filing, tens of thousands of dollars were paid to law firms representing top Trump aides who have gotten subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riots on Capitol Hill. Its unclear exactly why the PAC was paying the firms, but several of them have been deeply involved in dealings with the Jan. 6 committee.
The PAC paid $29,500 in December to Abel Bean Law, a firm based in Jacksonville, Fla., that is representing Budowich, the Trump spokesperson. Over the holidays, Budowich who testified before the committee and turned over financial documents sued the committee over a subpoena to his bank. A federal judge rejected that effort, but Budowich and his attorneys continue to fight to keep his bank records private.
Another firm, Brand Woodward Law, has represented Scavino, who tried and failed to anonymously sue Verizon to block a subpoena for his phone records. Save America PAC paid that law firm $25,000. Like others, Scavino has been trying to fight the subpoena by arguing the investigative committee lacked valid legislative purpose.
The PAC also paid $50,000 to JP Rowley Law PLLC, a law firm representing conservative attorney Cleta Mitchell, who advised Trump on how to contest the election and took part in his now-infamous call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.