Donald Trump’s efforts to build a small-donor fundraising machine late in the presidential race have come at a steep cost.
The committee that collects low-dollar contributions for Trump’s presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee raced through more than one-third of the $ 150 million it raised in the last quarter, spending $ 55 million to send direct mail, rent donor lists and manage its data, new campaign finance reports filed Saturday with the Federal Election Commission show.
While Trump’s campaign has touted its burgeoning digital operation, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee made massive investments trying to reach donors through the mail. The committee spent a whopping $ 26 million on direct mail printing and postage. Another $ 11.2 million went to rent donor lists. And nearly $ 1.5 million was spent on telemarketing.
The biggest vendors to the committee were the Virginia-based direct mail company Communications Corporation of America and the Washington-based email list rental provider Conservative Connector. Both companies were paid about $ 10 million.
Giles-Parscale, the San Antonio-based Web firm of Trump’s digital director, Brad Parscale, was paid nearly $ 1.9 million for digital consulting and online ads. Trump’s campaign separately paid the company $ 12.5 million through the end of August.
Altogether, Trump and the Republican Party raised nearly $ 212 million through two joint fundraising committees in the last three months. Trump’s campaign reaped more than $ 68 million of the proceeds, while another $ 59 million was transferred to the RNC and state parties.
The two committees together shelled out nearly $ 60 million on expenses. That’s about the same amount that two committees that jointly raise money for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party spent on operating expenses last quarter. But those two committees, the Hillary Victory Fund and Hillary Action Fund, raised 40 percent more than the Trump committees, pulling in $ 294.5 million during the last three months.
That means that for every dollar that the Trump committees brought in, about 28 cents went to operational costs, while the Clinton committees spent about 20 cents of every dollar.
The new filings show that Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee focused on raising high-dollar contributions, paid $ 1.8 million to 22 different fundraising consultants as the GOP nominee tried to catch up with Clinton’s fundraising.
Altogether, Trump Victory raised $ 61.3 million between June and September from donors who gave as much as $ 449,000 a piece.
Nearly two dozen consultants were involved in bringing in the huge checks. Major payments went to firms run by longtime party fundraisers, including Pluvious Group, run by 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s former Los Angeles finance director ($ 251,165); Kristin Hopkins Inc., led by a former RNC fundraiser in Dallas ($ 160,529); and SCR & Associates, the company of Steve Roche, who worked for a super PAC backing Romney in 2012 ($ 96,460).
Among the vendors paid for fundraising consulting was C.W. Franklin LLC, a company set up in Alexandria, Va., one year ago. In the FEC report, the company gives as its address a UPS store, but corporate filings show it was originally registered at the home address of Caitlin Wohlfarth, who served as finance director for former House Speaker John A. Boehner.
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