The swamp that candidate Donald Trump promised to drain is getting deeper six months into President Trump’s administration.
Real Clear Politics reported over the weekend that about $700,000 contributed by Trump supporters this Spring to help the president run for a second term in 2020 is instead going to pay lawyers advising him and his campaign about how to deal with investigations of his 2016 campaign.
USA Today, meanwhile, reports that political action groups fueled mostly by anonymous donors are investing millions of dollars to defend Trump and/or advance his policy agenda among voters and members of Congress.
“President Trump has been a political fraud on this question of draining the swamp since the day he took office,” Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer told USA Today.
The $700,000 the Trump camp spent on lawyers from April-June is about one-fourth of its receipts for those three months. The payments include $50,000 to a lawyer representing the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., who convened and hosted a now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting in which he apparently expected to receive information about Hillary Clinton from a representative of the Russian government.
While Trump is off to an early start in fundraising for his reelection, conservative nonprofit groups are putting big money into lobbying and public relations campaigns to advance his policy agenda. The big money supporters include some groups that kept their distance from the Trump campaign last year, among them the business/political network headed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.
Americans for Prosperity, the central cog in the Koch machine, already has spent $2 million on a public relations campaign for cuts in the corporate income tax and is planning to sponsor 50 public events around the country during August and September in support of its tax plan, USA Today said.
Another group, the Great America Alliance, is spending $450,000 on an ad campaign aimed at undercutting special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign. The Alliance already has pumped more than $3 million into pro-Trump advertising and is committed to spending $5 million more, Eric Beach, a Republican strategist who helps run the group, told the newspaper.
All the groups involved operate under a portion of the tax code that classifies them as “social welfare” organizations and allows them to accept donations from any source and to conceal the identity of their donors. There is no limit on how much the groups can accept and how much they can spend to advance their preferred policies; the groups are tax-exempt but their donors are not allowed to claim a tax deduction on their donations to the groups.
Office: Common Cause National