The president’s reelection operation is off to a fast start, amassing data and paying staff.
President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is off to a quick start, pulling in $13.2 million through a trio of committees in the first three months of the year, while paying an unusually large staff of about 20 employees, according to records filed Friday evening with the Federal Election Commission.
Nearly 80 percent of the cash raised by the three committees — Donald J. Trump for President, Trump Victory, and Trump Make America Great Again Committee — came from small donors.
The Republican National Committee says it raised another $41.3 million in the first three months of the year, but as of early Saturday, it had yet to file its final FEC report of the quarter.
The FEC reports for the three Trump committees suggested that much of their fundraising bounty came from the sale of branded merchandise sold around Trump’s inauguration and early presidency.
The three committees spent more than $4.7 million on hats, t-shirts, mugs and stickers, according to the reports, while also spending at least $2.7 million on data, telemarketing and other fundraising activities that are critical to maintaining a small-donor base.
Among the biggest recipients of 2017 spending was the web design and digital media firm run by the Trump campaign’s digital director Brad Parscale. His San Antonio-based firm was paid $1.6 million by Trump’s campaign, while Parscale was personally paid another $15,000.
During the time his firm was on the Trump campaign payroll this year, Parscale was also launching a non-profit group that intends to raise huge checks from major donors to support Trump’s agenda. If the group begins airing ads supporting Trump’s reelection, it would be barred by federal election rules from coordinating with the campaign, which could force Parscale to back away from either the campaign or the non-profit.
Others on the reelection campaign payroll include Vice President Mike Pence’s 27-year-old nephew John Pence, who is serving as deputy executive director for the campaign and was paid $40,000 in the first quarter. Michael Glassner, who was among the longest-serving officials on Trump’s 2016 campaign, was paid $77,000 in the first three months of this year to oversee the reelection operation, which is being run out of an office in Manhattan’s Trump Tower.
In all, the three Trump committees combined to spend a total of $458,000 at Trump’s various companies, including $274,000 in rent for the Trump Tower office space and $61,000 at Trump golf clubs.
Some Trump insiders or their companies continued to draw payments from Trump’s campaign committee even as they were at work inside the White House, according to the FEC filings. Bannon Strategic Advisers — a firm run by White House chief strategist Steve Bannon — received $28,000 on Jan. 25 for “administrative assistant/secretarial ser(vices),” while Scavino and Associates — associated with White House social media director Dan Scavino — was paid $14,500 on Feb. 13 for strategy consulting.
The campaign in March paid $24,000 for video production services to Jamestown Associates, the ad-making firm in which former Trump campaign strategist Jason Miller had been a partner. Miller in December was tapped to become White House communications director, but he backed out of the job for personal reasons, and later sold his stake in Jamestown.
Another former campaign consultant, A.J. Delgado, recieved a payment of $3,145 from the campaign for communications consulting in late February.
The three Trump committees finished March with nearly $16 million in the bank.