Trump ‘election defense’ fund potentially misleading donors
Election officials huddle around a table as absentee ballots are processed at the central counting board, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

As President Donald Trump seeks to discredit last week’s election with baseless claims of voter fraud, and his legal continues to rack up losses due to zero evidence backing up their wild claims, his team his hitting hard his supporters with requests for money to help pay for legal challenges to the election results.

However, only after donations top $8,000 will any money go towards what they are calling the “recount account.” That means donations givers who don’t read the Trump fine print won’t know that their money is funding things other than the lost cause that attracted them to give in the first place.

When total donations surpass $8,000 subsequent donations will go towards financing election challenges, including recounts and lawsuits over alleged improprieties, the fundraising disclosures show. However, according to the fine print on the emailed solicitations for funds shows a large portion of the money goes to “Save America,” a Trump leadership PAC set up on Monday, and the Republican National Committee (RNC).

The emailed solicitations send supporters to an “Official Election Defense Fund” website that asks them to sign up for recurring donations to “protect the results and keep fighting even after Election Day.” But as long as total donations languish below $8,000, Trump and the RNC would be able to channel the donations into other political causes or campaigns, such as the two Senate-leadership-deciding runoff races in Georgia.

Trump’s solicitation website carries a banner headline that says “OFFICIAL ELECTION DEFENSE FUND” and “CONTRIBUTE NOW.” Yet, the information that donations less than $8,000 won’t be going to he advertised cause is not on the website’s big banners, but rather near the bottom of the page, in small print.

More specifically, none of the money donated flows to Trump’s official “recount” committee fund until Trump’s own Save America share reaches the legal contribution limit of $5,000, according to the disclosures. In other words, before a dollar goes into the recount fund, Save America would receive $5,000 and the RNC around $3,300. Donations to the recount committee are legally limited to $2,800.

For example, if a Trump donor gave $500, for instance, $300 would go to Trump’s Save America PAC, $200 would to the RNC – and nothing would go to his election defense fund.

Not only have Democrats called out this effort, one Republican political strategist asserted that Trump is misleading supporters who might give small donations.

“It’s important to be up front with people – especially those who are digging deep into their pockets to come up with $25,” said Michael DuHaime, a former political director at the RNC. “If you tell them it’s going for legal fees, well then it should go for legal fees.”

Others, however, see not issue. Darrell Scott, for example, an Ohio pastor who helped found the National Diversity Coalition for Trump and served on the president’s 2016 transition team, is one of those individuals who are okay with the murky nature of the donation ask.

“I see this as two pockets on the same pair of pants. It doesn’t matter if it goes into the left or the right pocket,” Scott said. “In the end, the money will be used for a legitimate purpose that his supporters will get behind.”