In another sign of rising troubles for Donald Trump's presidential campaign, on the same day that he fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowki, a report filed with the Federal Election Commission showed that Trump finished May with a "troublingly low" $1.3 million in the bank. Trump raised just $3.1 million for his campaign during the month that began with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus declaring Trump the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. Confirming the sway that Hillary Clinton holds with donors, during the same month the presumptive Democratic Party nominee raised $26.4 million and finished May with $42.5 million cash on hand.
More troubling is that Trump's cash balances would be in the red had it not been for another $2.2 million personal loan by Trump, which brings the total campaign loans by the billionaire to $46 million so far. Somewhat mitigating the troubled financial picture, this validates Trump's recurring statement that he does not wish to sell out to outside donors. He may not have the option.
After largely self-financing the primary election, Trump said last month that he would begin actively soliciting money for the general election. He appointed a national finance chairman - headed by a former Goldman and Soros financier - and finalized a joint fundraising vehicle with the Republican National Committee. But his haul that month suggests his campaign was unable to turn his clinching of the party’s nomination into any fundraising boost.
One does wonder how much personal pain Trump can sustain. Clinton has raised $238.2 million over the entire campaign - nearly quadruple Trump's largely self-funded $64.6 million.
According to The Hill, Trump and his top lieutenants have been publicly projecting confidence, and insisting they don't need as much money as Clinton does to win. "500 is the number," said Anthony Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier and Trump fundraiser, in an email to The Hill last week. Scaramucci meant $500 million, which is less than half of what the Clinton forces are expecting to raise for the general election. "I must be living outside the bubble," Scaramucci added. "He will get enough and beat her in the fall."
Trump's spin is simple: he is simply more efficient. Trump has boasted - accurately - that he won the primary by spending less than his opponents. Since pivoting into general election mode, Trump and his allies have pitched themselves as the leaner, more efficient alternative to Clinton. Trump's campaign had roughly 70 employees on the payroll in last reporting cycle, while Clinton has more than 700. And Trump rightly claims that with his unparalleled ability to command media attention he doesn't need to spend as much as Clinton does on commercials.
However, as the Hill adds, that narrative is wearing on some key members of Trump's campaign team, including his top finance chiefs, who are getting nervous about the current state of the campaign. They're watching Clinton and her super-PAC book some $40 million worth of unanswered advertising in key swing states such as Ohio, Florida, and Nevada. And they're wondering when Trump himself will get serious about courting the billionaire GOP donors he needs to fund his campaign. He's charming in rooms with donors, but he doesn't do the follow-up repeat schmoozing on the phone that's required to bring in large checks.
In an interview with The Hill on Monday morning, a top Trump fundraiser said he and his colleagues had reached a point of deep frustration at the state of the campaign's money operation. "Where is the small dollar fundraising? It's not happening so far as I can tell," the source said, adding that they were being forced to chasing small dollars because a number of high-net-worth donors were deciding not to support Trump.
As the WSJ adds, Trump’s cash deficit means it will be difficult for him to rival Clinton’s expansive operation, both in TV ads and grassroots efforts. He has said he will rely heavily on the RNC, but the party’s efforts in battleground states are small in comparison to the Democrats and nonexistent in several blue states, such as California, that Trump says he wants to put on the map.
Another twist: of the $6.7 million spent in May nearly 20%—or about $1.1 million—went to companies Mr. Trump owns or to travel reimbursements for his children, who serve as surrogates on the campaign trail. According to the AP, when Trump flies, he uses his airplane. When he campaigns, he often chooses his properties or his own Trump Tower in New York City, which serves as headquarters. His campaign even buys Trump bottled water and Trump wine. Through the end of May, Trump's campaign had cycled at least $6.2 million back into Trump corporate products and services. That's about 10 percent of his total campaign expenditures.
As such, one can make the argument that Trump is merely cycling his own money into his own properties.
Trump, who claims he is worth $10 billion, insists he'll fund himself if the Republican Party abandons him, but no senior person on his campaign who has spoken to The Hill believes he'll make good on that promise.
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Trump's full financial filing is can be found here.