Campaign

Fundraising spat points to Trump-GOP fissures

The fragile alliance between former President Trump and the GOP campaign organizations showed signs of fraying this week amid turf disputes over fundraising and the use of Trump’s name and image in advertising.

Trump over the past week has taken legal action and issued public calls to try to redirect campaign donations from the committees charged with electing Republicans to his own campaign bank account.

And he’s vowed to oust GOP lawmakers who supported his impeachment, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), one of the Senate’s foremost centrists who’s up for reelection in next year’s midterms, even as nearly half a dozen other Republican Senate institutionalists are headed for the exits.

At the same time, Trump strategized this week with National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman Rick Scott (R-Fla.) at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. He also offered full-throated endorsements for nearly half a dozen Republicans up for reelection in the Senate, potentially helping them steer clear of primary challengers.

Trump has said he’s committed to helping Republicans regain majorities in the House and Senate, even if his actions have appeared at times to work against that goal.

Republicans say it will be a delicate dance with the mercurial former president as the 2022 election cycle heats up, an acknowledgment that the party will need the enthusiasm and loyalty Trump engenders among base voters as the GOP seeks to take back control of Congress.

“Trump is going to do what he wants to do, and he’s going to involve himself in primaries, and it’s a wasted effort to try and convince him otherwise,” said one Republican National Committee (RNC) insider. “Trump has all the cards here. He’s got the popular support, and he’s got the support of most major donors. So yes, it’d be nice if we could all get along and fly together, but there are some folks in the House and Senate who he has a right to go after. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s done more for the Republican Party than anyone alive, and he deserves respect.”

A Senate campaign source said Scott, a Florida senator with presidential ambitions, was at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday night updating Trump on the NRSC’s plans for the cycle and how it can work with him to win back the majority.

A Trump World source said they discussed endorsements for some incumbents as well candidate recruitment for several open seats. Trump has already publicly endorsed GOP Sens. John Boozman (Ark.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), John Kennedy (La.), Tim Scott (S.C.) and Jerry Moran (Kansas), although none of them were expected to pull serious primary challengers.

However, the Team Trump source said the former president refused to back down from his promise to travel to Alaska to campaign against Murkowski, the only GOP senator up for reelection in 2022 who voted to convict him in his second impeachment trial.

Also looming over 2022: Trump’s soured relationship with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a top party fundraiser.

“There is tension, especially with some of the incumbents in the House and Senate who backed impeachment, so the GOP committee chairs will have to decide whether they’re sticking by the incumbents or standing with Trump,” said one former Trump administration official. “If push comes to shove, I expect they’ll side with the president. That’s just the reality of where the party is at.”

In the House, Trump has endorsed former White House aide Max Miller, who is challenging Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach.

Trump adviser Jason Miller warned Friday that there will be severe consequences if the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) or any other outside group intervenes to oppose Trump’s sanctioned candidates.

“If the NRCC or the committee were to come in really strong to attack Max … number one, that’s going to get President Trump involved in a huge way,” Miller said on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast. “But I think it’s probably safe to say that any cooperation or working with such an entity in the future is probably done.”

“If President Trump endorses someone … when the committee starts attacking them, there are going to be big problems,” he added.

Trump has good relationships with the heads of the GOP campaign committees: RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, the NRSC’s Scott and NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer (R-Minn.).

However, Trump raised questions about his ability to cooperate with GOP leaders this week when he sent a cease-and-desist order to the three groups saying they cannot fundraise off his name or likeness without explicit permission.

The RNC responded with a respectful letter saying it “has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech, and it will continue to do so in pursuit of these common goals.”

Trump followed up with a clarifying statement saying that he fully supports the Republican Party and the “important” GOP committees but that he does not want any of the money he helps raise to be directed toward the “RINOs and fools” who have criticized him.

“So much money is being raised and completely wasted by people that do not have the GOP’s best interests in mind. If you donate to our Save America PAC at DonaldJTrump.com, you are helping the America First movement and doing it right. We will WIN, and we will WIN BIG! Our Country is being destroyed by the Democrats!” Trump said.

That back-and-forth appears to have leveled off for now, with the committees under the impression that Trump will sanction their fundraising efforts so long as it does not benefit the GOP rebels who voted to impeach him.

The RNC will hold part of its spring donors retreat next month at Mar-a-Lago, where Trump is expected to speak. The RNC has used Trump’s name to fundraise for that event, which is expected to draw several potential White House hopefuls eager to take up Trump’s mantle, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Of course, Trump is leaving open the possibility that he could run again in 2024, and he’ll be the prohibitive front-runner if he does.

“The RNC and President Trump are focused on the same goal — retaking our Congressional majorities in 2022,” said RNC national press secretary Mandi Merritt. “There is much more that unites our Party than divides it, and together we will work to expose Democrats’ bad policies and elect Republicans up and down the ballot.”  

Tags 2022 2022 midterms Alaska Anthony Gonzalez Donald Trump Florida Fundraising GOP fundraising Impeachment Jerry Moran John Boozman John Kennedy Kristi Noem Lisa Murkowski Mar-a-Lago Mike Crapo Mike Pompeo Mitch McConnell Ohio Ron DeSantis Ronna McDaniel Steve Bannon Tim Scott Tom Emmer Trump impeachment

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Most Popular

Load more

Video

See all Video