Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee are pushing a new fundraising effort to tap mega-donors for the November election. The effort, spearheaded by two new fundraising committees, will allow donors to contribute up to $449,000 to the Republican campaign.
The creation of the so-called “joint fundraising committees” allow donors to underwrite campaign efforts supporting Trump far beyond the $2,700 individual limit for contributions directly to his campaign.
The two newly created funds, Trump Victory and Trump Make America Great Again Committee, are joint efforts between the Trump campaign, the RNC and 11 state Republican party committees. These partners will share the funds donated to the new committees.
The Trump campaign will collect the first $5,400 from each donation, half of which is earmarked to pay the campaign’s primary election costs. The remainder of the donations will be split between the RNC and the individual state parties, to cover get-out-the-vote efforts, voter contact and outreach and “party building” activities.
Each state party is able to accept $10,000 from individuals through its own federal election account. The 11 state parties participating in the joint fundraising effort are; Arkansas, Connecticut, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. As a result, $110,000 of any contribution to the joint fundraising effort would be split among the state parties.
Only one of these states, Virginia, is a battleground state in the Presidential contest in November. State parties, however, can transfer unlimited amounts to other state party campaign efforts. Money raised by the Mississippi Republican party as part of the Trump-RNC effort, for example, could be transferred to the Republican party in Florida, which is expected to be a battleground contest.
The effort is similar to joint fundraising efforts created to support John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. Of the just over $1 billion raised by Republicans in 2012 for the election, more than two-thirds was collected through the joint-fundraising efforts. The Romney campaign itself raised just over $300 million, while the joint fundraising effort netted just over $700 million.
The Romney joint fundraising effort, however, had a $75,000 limit on donations, far less than the $449,000 limit on the Trump-RNC effort. The higher limit is due to a Supreme Court ruling, which eliminated aggregate caps on individuals, and a statutory provision tucked into a 2014 appropriations bill that allows both national party committees to create new fundraising committees.
Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have exploited the new rules even more aggressively. The Clinton campaign and DNC have signed joint fundraising agreements with 32 state parties. The Democrat National Committee has also created new campaign accounts, allowing an individual to contribute up to $1.1 million to support Clinton and the Democrats this Fall.
The announcement of the joint fundraising effort between Trump and the RNC is the new normal in American Presidential politics. It also, however, signals Trump’s assumption of leadership of the national Republican party. The political fortunes of Trump and the RNC are now inextricably intertwined.