President Trump is raising money toward a bid for a second term earlier than any incumbent president in recent history, pulling in tens of millions of dollars in the months after his election and through his inauguration.
Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday showed that Mr. Trump’s campaign brought in $7.1 million during the first three months of 2017, on top of over $23 million raised with the Republican Party. By contrast, President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee brought in a total of about $15 million during the first three months of his first term in 2009.
A vast majority of Mr. Trump’s donors gave small amounts, and relatively little came in large checks from wealthy Republican benefactors. That suggests that Mr. Trump is relying heavily on the grass-roots donors who provided much of the cash — aside from his own fortune — he used for his campaign.
Mr. Trump’s campaign committee spent $6.3 million from January through March, including $1.2 million on merchandise and “Make America Great Again” hats, sales of which helped his fund-raising.
As it did during the presidential race, Mr. Trump’s campaign also spent significantly on Trump properties. Trump Tower in Manhattan, where the campaign is based, collected $300,000 in rent. At least another $25,000 went to other properties, including Mr. Trump’s hotel in Las Vegas and a golf course he owns in Florida. Such transactions are legal, and required to ensure he pays fair market rate for campaign costs.
The campaign disbursed tens of thousands of dollars to a firm owned by Mr. Trump’s chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon. The bill was for “administrative assistant/secretarial” services.
Meredith McGehee, the policy chief at the government reform policy group Issue One, said that Mr. Trump’s early fund-raising showed there were few downsides to seeking donations so early in his presidency. Mr. Trump lacks the campaign infrastructure of past presidents and needs to build a foundation of support ahead of an expected fund-raising push by Democrats, she said.
“They know the Democrats are already raising a lot of money by people who may not have liked Hillary or were not engaged, but have become engaged because of their reaction to the president,” Ms. McGehee said.
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