Trump's PAC raises $75 million, spends $0 on election audit efforts

So where is the money going?

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published July 23, 2021 11:43AM (EDT)

 (Getty/NosUA/Ron Sachs - Pool/Salon)
(Getty/NosUA/Ron Sachs - Pool/Salon)

Former President Trump gathered $75 million from his political action committee in the first half of this year as he bandied baseless allegations of widespread election fraud – but not a dime of the PAC funds have been spent on any GOP-backed efforts to back up the Big Lie that there was fraud in the 2020 election. 

The revelation, first reported by The Washington Post, centers on Trump's Save America PAC, which the former president launched back in November of last year just six days after his historic defeat. According to sources familiar with the matter, Trump has his PAC only to expense personal costs, like plane flights, legal services, and staff payroll. The Post learned that Trump has not pumped PAC money into any of the leading GOP efforts to unveil the apparent fraud that was embedded in the various state elections. 

More specifically, Trump opted out of donating a single dollar to the GOP-led Arizona audit, an increasingly inane affair that has dragged on for months with no end in sight. Salon reported last June that the audit is being bankrolled by a number of Trump allies, including One America News Network anchor Christina Bobb, former Trump attorney L. Lin Wood, Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem, and former chief executive of Patrick Byrne.

According to the Post, Trump is likely saving his financial resources for his much-anticipated 2024 presidential bid, a move which the former president has strongly hinted at but not formally committed to. 

Tim O'Brien, a Trump biographer, told the Post the Trump's PAC "is probably the most lucrative thing he's had in terms of cash flow since the Plaza casino in Atlantic City," adding: "He has recognized because of what happened after the election — he can make money as a candidate."

Since his presidential defeat last year, the former president has rhetorically backed election fraud conspiracies in a number of different states like Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, personally meeting with GOP officials from all three to advance his claims. Both Georgia and Pennsylvania are currently conducting their own election audit, though neither has found evidence of widespread fraud. 

In Pennsylvania, acting Secretary of State Veronica W. Degraffenreid on Thursday decertified the voting machines currently under the custody of Wake TSI, a West Chester-based auditing firm contracted by pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell to conduct the recount. The company, much like the Arizona audit's Cyber Ninjas, has "no knowledge or expertise in election technology," according to Degraffenreid.

Despite failing to finance his efforts to prove election fraud, Trump has repeatedly solicited donations through email and social media under the pretense of "securing" democracy, as the Post noted. 

"We need you to join the fight to SECURE OUR ELECTIONS!" one Facebook ad tells Trump supporters. 

Though Trump is not currently funding any election audits himself, a Trump adviser told the Post that it's possible the president will decide to do so "at some point down the road."

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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