Financial filings reveal Trump-aligned PAC spent millions on legal fees News
"Donald Trump" - Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0
Financial filings reveal Trump-aligned PAC spent millions on legal fees

The Trump-aligned Save America Leadership political action committee (PAC) spent over $20 million on former President Donald Trump’s legal fees out of its total of about $30 million in spending according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings made public Monday. The filing comes as legal woes continue to mount for Trump.

The filings reveal that legal firms such as Florida-based Chris Kise & Associates, P.A. and Continental PLLC received upwards of a million dollars. Criminal law-focused firms such as Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White, LLC and Tacopina, Siegel & Deoreo also received upwards of a million in legal fees from the PAC. The filings also revealed multiple money shifts between Trump-aligned political groups such as Make America Great Again Inc., which gave the PAC $12 million, and Trump’s 2016/2020 Presidential Committee which received over $5 million.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC), the federal government’s regulatory agency for campaign finance, also received Trump’s joint fundraising committee filing on Monday. The filing shows high spending and a donation crunch, with the committee spending over $17 million in the first six months of 2023 on campaign-associated costs.

The filings come amidst an ABC News exclusive, which claimed that the grand jury investigating Trump’s involvement in the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot has expanded its purview to look into the Save America PAC. Allegedly, subpoenas have been sent in hopes of getting more information on the formation timeline for the PAC, how it raises money and how it spends money. The PAC has reportedly sent fundraising emails in the past, encouraging donors to support Trump through his legal troubles.

A Trump campaign spokesperson responded to the release of the filings, telling ABC, “In order to combat these heinous actions by Joe Biden’s cronies and to protect these innocent people from financial ruin and prevent their lives from being completely destroyed, the leadership PAC contributed to their legal fees to ensure they have representation against unlawful harassment.”

A PAC is a political committee formed exclusively to fundraise and support political candidates. While PACs have been around since the 1940s, they have proliferated since the US Supreme Court released Citizens United v. FEC, a ruling which found that political donations are akin to political speech. A traditional PAC is different than the much newer super PAC, created by the Court of Appeals case Speechnow v. FEC, which does not make donations to candidates or political parties. Super PACs generally support issue-focused campaigns or support political campaigns through independently run and funded mailers or ads. There are no funding source restrictions on super PACs.

Trump’s legal battles have been growing, as he begins his 2024 run for president. Trump is currently embattled in a federal criminal case in Florida regarding his retention and storage of classified documents, a New York criminal case over falsified documents during the 2016 election, a federal grand jury investigation over his response to the 2020 election and involvement in the subsequent Capitol riot, a grand jury investigation in Georgia also over his response to his 2020 election loss and a defamation lawsuit from E. Jean Carroll whom Trump called a liar when she accused him of sexual assault.