Donald Trump's Mind-Blowing Fundraising Report Is Even Worse Than It Looks

Donald Trump's Mind-Blowing Fundraising Report Is Even Worse Than It Looks
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Donald Trump is certainly one of the most unusual presidential candidates in United States history.

And if he hadn't proven that over the course of his tumultuous campaign, he made it painstakingly clear with a stunning fundraising report he dropped to the Federal Election Commission late on Monday.

"This isn't a campaign. It's a RICO suit waiting to happen."

Trump, who self-funded most of his campaign through the primary season, ended up with less than $1.3 million in the bank as of May 31 — a far cry from the more than $42 million Democrat Hillary Clinton claimed in her latest report.

Trump even claimed less in the bank at the close of May than some of the candidates he vanquished in the Republican primaries, including Ted Cruz and Ben Carson.

"Mind-blowing": "This isn't a campaign. It's a RICO suit waiting to happen," scoffed Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist and longtime Trump critic. 

"The self-dealing, the six-figure payouts to Mar-a-Lago and other Trump businesses run to about 21% of the expenditures, and I'm guessing Venal Don isn't giving the campaign the discount rate," Wilson said in a message, when asked about the presumptive nominee's spending report.

Trump's campaign filing shows big spending at his own Mar-a-Lago property in Florida.
Source: 
Lynne Sladky/AP

"It's mindblowing," Wilson continued, "and it's a staggering indictment of not only how inept and weak he is as a real candidate, but how his enablers at the [Republican National Committee] have ignored this nightmare until it's almost too late."

The astonishment isn't limited to partisans and anti-Trump forces.

"This is unprecedented. Never in modern campaigning has a presumptive nominee been so bereft of resources — money, staff, strategy — as Donald Trump at this point in the cycle," said David Birdsell, dean of the Baruch College School of Public Affairs.

Just consider where 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney — a wealthy man in his own right who also spent millions of his own money on his White House quests — was at this point in his own campaign:

"This seems a curious thing to say about a billionaire standard-bearer, but personal wealth is not the only or even the most relevant measure of capacity for a candidate entering a general election," Birdsell said in an email.  "Trump evidently believes he can do in the general what he did in the primary — but the game is vastly different in almost every way that matters."

The paltry showing put Trump on the defensive — and had a spokesman for the Republican National Committee declining comment to a Mic reporter — as the self-financing real estate developer and failed casino magnate, who claimed a net worth of more than $10 billion when he got into the race, pivots to the general election.

Team Trump blasted out a statement Tuesday morning, trumpeting how great the financials in sharp contrast to the blistering critiques circulated by naysayers: 

Although he'd previously said he'd turn from burning his own cash in the primaries to more traditional fundraising in the general, Trump sounded a different note during a Tuesday morning Today show appearance in which he asserted, "I understand money better than anybody."

"I spent $55 million of my own money to win the primaries. Fifty-five. That's a lot of money by even any standard. I may do that again in the general election," he said on the show, via telephone.  

"I have a lot of cash, I may do it in the general election, but it would be nice to have some help from the party."

In a separate interview with Fox & Friends, Trump defended his cash position and his GOP support, suggesting his next FEC filing would tell a very different story:

I need support from the Republicans. In some ways, I get more support from the Democrats than the Republicans. ... By the way, [GOP chairman] Reince [Priebus] and the RNC have been terrific. ... It's not revealed yet, but we raised a lot of money. I made many stops in Las Vegas, Texas and Arizona. They did about $12 million. We have raised about $12 million. That's for the Republican party. ... I can go a different route, I could just spend my own money.

All not lost? Not everyone sees Trump as doomed, of course — though it's hard not to hear their astonishment at the current state of affairs.

"This is totally out of the ordinary for a top presidential candidate — or even a candidate for governor for that matter," New York-based strategist and political commentator Susan Del Percio said in an email. Del Percio is not aligned with any presidential campaign this cycle.

It's unusual even in more local races: Compared to Trump, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had more than $890,000 in the bank as of his last filing with the city Campaign Finance Board — and he's not even running for re-election until 2017.

All is not lost, del Percio said. 

"Fortunately for Trump, he can infuse his campaign quickly with his own money, and that is what potential donors are probably waiting to see him do."

"However, Trump has two significant hurdles in raising money," she added. "First, when he announced his candidacy, he said he would self-finance. As a result he has no current fundraising operation and that takes time to develop — time which he is quickly running out of. Second, donors want to know his strategy to win — and to date, Trump has yet to provide one." 

Read more: 
Donald Trump Has Less Campaign Cash Than Ex-Candidates Ben Carson and Ted Cruz
Twitter Roasts Donald Trump With #TrumpSoPoor Hashtag After Grim Fundraising
Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski Ousted by Trump Camp After Internal Turmoil

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Celeste Katz

Celeste Katz is senior political correspondent at Mic, covering national politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at celeste@mic.com.

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