Republicans spend millions on TV ads for midterms, but why doesn’t Trump?

Former US President Donald Trump hosts a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, USA on September 17, 2022. REUTERS/Gaelen Morse/File Photo/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Sept 21 (Reuters) – Fundraising groups linked to Republican Party leaders are sharply increasing campaign ad spending to help the party gain control of Congress in the Nov. 8 general election.

But not Donald Trump’s Save America, a PAC fundraising group that under US election law can fund the Republican former president’s political allies and his frequent rallies, but not an election campaign of its own.

Despite amassing more than $90 million in the PAC — an unprecedented sum for a former leader — Trump’s group has yet to report ad spending in support of Republican candidates, according to a disclosure filed Tuesday with the Federal Elections Commission.

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While Trump is under no obligation to use Save America’s cash pile for ads, his failure to join the Republican spending spree is fueling speculation that he is sticking with it to fund a possible 2024 White House run, despite Save America doing so legally would not be able to fund his campaign.

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A Save America spokesman gave no indication that the PAC planned to increase spending like its Republican brethren, saying the real value is not in the PAC’s massive war chest but in Trump himself.

“His rallies, which serve as the most powerful political weapon in American politics, produce new voters and invaluable media attention that help the candidates win,” said Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Save America.

Republican and Democratic fundraising groups known as PACs and Super PACs, which can spend unlimited amounts of money to support campaigns so long as they don’t coordinate spending with candidates, have saturated the U.S. airwaves with television ads promoting both in recent weeks Parties is widely regarded as crucial communication tools. Read more Save America is a fundraising organization known as the Leadership PAC that allows only politicians to help their allies financially.

The Republican Party’s two super PACs, which are linked to their congressional leaders and their top two congressional PACs, have poured more than $100 million into political ads since Aug. 20, according to a Reuters analysis of their disclosures to the FEC . That’s more than double what they spent this year through August 20th.

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Certainly, Trump’s Save America PAC spent money on the midterm elections: almost $9 million on rallies with candidates at which Trump has repeatedly hinted that he might run for president again; and a similar amount for direct donations to the more than 200 candidates Trump has endorsed.

But that’s only put a small dent in Save America’s war chest, and some of the biggest spend in US elections is on expensive television advertising to woo voters, particularly in the last few weeks leading up to Election Day.

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The New York Times reported earlier this month that a federal grand jury in Washington was seeking information about the founding of — and expenses of — Save America. Officials have not confirmed the media reports because grand juries usually operate in secret. Budowich declined to comment on the reports.

During the first half of the year, Save America collected nearly a fifth of funds raised through WinRed, Republicans’ premier online fundraising platform.

Save America regularly emails supporters proclaiming them “Patriot of the Month” — or scolding them for not having contributed yet. For donors who donate at least $45, some emails offer an “epic” t-shirt adorned with dozens of photos of the former leader.

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“Trump’s PAC could be used to flood the zone with messages supporting pro-Trump Republican candidates, but more and more voters have already made up their minds with each week that goes by,” said Michael Beckell, research director at Issue One , a bipartisan group campaigning for campaign finance reform.

Over the summer, Trump officials floated several Save America spending plans, urging the organization to run ads to support candidates and provide staffing at key campaigns, according to two people familiar with the plans but who requested anonymity , because they are not authorized to speak publicly.

At least one of the plans called for television commercials that endorsed Trump-backed candidates but were largely centered around Trump and his political movement, the two people said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t run a single ad supporting a candidate during the election cycle,” said one of the people familiar with Save America’s planning.

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Reporting by Jason Lange and Jarrett Renshaw, editing by Ross Colvin and Alistair Bell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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