The Electoral College voted to confirm Joe Biden’s victory on Monday. Yet Donald TrumpDonald TrumpJill Biden: Doctorate is one of the things I’m ‘most proud of’ Azar tells Health Department staff his wife has COVID-19: ‘Mild symptoms but otherwise doing well’ Michigan reinstates pandemic-related moratorium on water shutoffs MORE continues his efforts to overturn the election with fruitless litigation. So why won’t Republicans admit it’s futile to try to change the result, and pull back? Many believe it’s because they’ll need Trump’s endorsement to get re-elected, even after he’s no longer president.
But there’s another, bigger reason: to keep millions of small donors contributing to Trump’s “Official Election Defense Fund,” which has collected over $200 million since election day. Donors are told their contributions will be used to overturn Biden’s victory. But if they believe that, they have another thing coming. Contrary to its stated purpose, the “Defense Fund” is a slush fund that can pay Trump’s personal expenses after he leaves office and finances Republican election campaigns.
Trump and his Republican supporters know perfectly well the legal battle is hopeless. They suffered multiple litigation losses culminating in the Supreme Court decision. They failed to convince state officials to overturn the election. Even Trump’s loyal Attorney General, William Barr, debunked Trump’s main argument by admitting there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
But Trump keeps begging donors to fund his fight to overturn the election anyway. His team has sent more than 200 emails with subject lines claiming, “The recount results were bogus,” and warning, “ We cannot afford a Joe Biden presidency. We must right for the future… Four more years of Trump …Will you allow the corrupt Democrats to try to steal this election?” The funds’ website claims that contributions are needed to “ensure we have the resources to… keep fighting… to defend the integrity of our election… We can’t allow the left wing mob to undermine our election.”
But that’s not how the money is being used. 60 percent of Fund donations are funneled to Trump’s Political Action Committee “Save America,” and 40 percent goes to the Republican National Committee. A donor would have to give more than $8,300 before a dollar of it goes toward litigation and recounts. Anything under that amount goes to Save America (up to $5,000) and the Republican National Committee (up to around $3,300).
Trump can use Save America money to pay family members and fund travel, hotel stays and expensive events in glamorous venues. Fund donations channeled to the RNC can be used in any GOP candidate’s race — including the Georgia run-off election that will determine control of the Senate and probably the future of Biden initiatives and cabinet appointments. The fund is the latest of Trump swindles and cheats
Republicans in Congress have mostly acquiesced in Trump’s past transgressions. This time they are complicit in misleading Trump loyalists into spending money they can’t afford, in the middle of a pandemic, to overturn an election that’s already decided, when they know nearly all of it will go into their pockets. It’s the perfect parting shot from an administration built on fraud, hubris, and contempt for America’s laws and people.
Neil Baron is a political consultant and a former adviser for Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission on credit rating agency reform.