Major DeSantis Donor Now Funding Trump
Major DeSantis Donor Now Funding Trump

By Austin Alonzo

The Trump campaign is getting a cash boost from a donor who previously sent $20 million to a group backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

On March 20, various committees associated with former President Donald Trump published their financial reports with the Federal Election Commission reflecting their February activities.

The three organizations that issued a monthly report on March 20—the principal campaign committee Donald J. Trump for President 2024 Inc., the qualified leadership PAC Save America, and the super PAC Make America Great Again Inc.—reported they collectively had about $63.1 million in cash on hand at the end of February.

The three groups, as a whole, raised about $28.7 million in total receipts and sent out about $22 million in total disbursements.

The Republican National Committee, which will be dedicated to helping reelect President Trump in 2024 with new leadership in place, reported it had about $11.3 million in cash on hand at the end of the month, according to the FEC.

MAGA Inc. leads the way in fundraising for President Trump. It brought in about $12.8 million in February and has raised about $20.1 million in 2024 so far.

The principal campaign committee brought in the second-largest haul. It reported raising about $10.1 million and spending about $7.8 million. Donald J. Trump for President 2024 told the FEC it had about $33.5 million on hand at the end of February.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump greets supporters after speaking on Super Tuesday at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., on March 5, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Bigelow Backs Trump

MAGA Inc. pulled in multiple million-dollar checks in February. The largest came from the largest funder of Mr. DeSantis’s bid for the GOP’s presidential nomination.

On Feb. 9, Robert Bigelow sent a $5 million donation to MAGA Inc., according to FEC records.

The Epoch Times previously reported Mr. Bigelow, the founder, president, and program manager of North Las Vegas, Nevada, company Bigelow Aerospace, gave $20 million to Never Back Down Inc., a super PAC supporting Mr. DeSantis in 2023. He also sent $10 million to a Florida-based political account supporting Mr. DeSantis in 2022.

Mr. Bigelow is also the president of Your Best Management Group LLC, which owns Budget Suites of America. In 2023, he indicated he would be switching his support to President Trump after becoming disillusioned with Mr. DeSantis’s candidacy.

Donor records maintained by watchdog group OpenSecrets show Mr. Bigelow’s biggest political gifts have gone to Republicans, although he did support a number of Democratic causes between 2007 and 2011.

Representatives of Mr. Bigelow did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.

A logo of Jimmy John’s, the sandwich restaurant chain specializing in delivery, hangs outside one of their shops in downtown Washington on June 9, 2016. (Mladen Antonov /AFP/Getty Images)

Other Million Dollar Donations

Egyptian-American businessman Emil Michael and his company, M8 Enterprises LLC, both sent $1 million to MAGA Inc. in February, according to FEC records.

Mr. Michael, according to his website, is a former chief business officer at Uber Technologies Inc. and has played leading roles in several successful technology businesses.

Mr. Michael, according to Open Secrets donor records, is not a major political donor. He’s never given a gift above $10,000, and he’s backed both Democrats and Republicans in the past.

Jimmy John’s founder James J. Liautaud sent $1 million to MAGA Inc. in February.

Mr. Liautaud, who is now listed in FEC records as retired, is not a large political donor but does often give to Republican candidates and causes, according to OpenSecrets records. His donation to MAGA Inc. is his largest ever.

According to Forbes, Mr. Liautaud is worth an estimated $2.4 billion.

RAI Services Co., a division of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., sent $1 million to MAGA Inc. in February, according to FEC records. Reynolds American is owned by British American Tobacco PLC, one of the largest tobacco companies in the world.

According to OpenSecrets donor records, RAI Services Co. is a consistent donor to Republican Party causes. In 2020, it sent $1 million to the Republican-backing Senate Leadership Fund.

Alan Fair, the CEO of Denver-based real estate company Alden Torch Financials, sent $1 million to MAGA Inc. in February, according to FEC records.

According to OpenSecrets donor records, Mr. Fair previously supported Mr. DeSantis’s candidacy with a $100,000 gift to Never Back Down. Before his $1 million gift to MAGA Inc., it was his most significant political contribution to date.

In his political giving career, according to OpenSecrets, Mr. Fair has given to both Republicans and Democrats.

While she didn’t donate $1 million, former Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler got close. Ms. Loeffler, who served in the Senate from January 2020 to January 2021 after being appointed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, donated $720,000 to MAGA Inc. in February, according to FEC records.

Ms. Loeffler, who was defeated by Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) in a special election in November 2020, is currently the chair of Greater Georgia Action Inc., a 501(c)(4) nonprofit. According to OpenSecrets donor records, Ms. Loeffler is not a major political donor and the gift to MAGA Inc. is the largest of her giving career.

Ms. Loeffler’s husband, Jeff Sprecher, the founder and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, is worth an estimated $1 billion, according to Forbes.

Representatives of Mr. Michael, Mr. Liautaud, RAI Services, Mr. Fair, and Ms. Loeffler did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) welcomes a crowd during a runoff election night party at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Buckhead in Atlanta, Georgia, on Jan. 6, 2021. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Political Funds Continue to Cover Legal Expenses

The filings showed that three of the committees linked to President Trump paid about $6.5 million in February to cover various legal consulting fees. This brings the tally for the year so far to about $10.2 million. A number of political action committees and joint fundraising committees that could be paying additional legal costs have yet to report their activities in 2024.

Save America led the way in legal spending in February. It dropped about $5.6 million on those expenses during the month. President Trump has repeatedly said the cases against him are politically motivated.

MAGA Inc. is the biggest sponsor of Save America. According to FEC filings, it provided nearly all of Save America’s money in February. MAGA Inc. sent $5 million to Save America on Feb. 1 in a transaction that was called a “refund of federal contribution.”

Save America sent some money—$500,000—to Make America Great Again PAC in a transfer. That PAC did not report on March 20, but it has spent on legal fees in the past. It will issue a quarterly report in April.

The same was true in January when MAGA Inc. sent Save America $5 million. That was most of the money the group raised.

Nevertheless, Save America sent out more than it took in February. Its FEC disclosure says it spent about $7.2 million. It ended the month with about $4.1 million on hand.

Once again, the full scope of the Trump campaign’s financial situation was not revealed in March. A number of committees tied to President Trump reporting on a quarterly basis must show their hand on April 15.

The Biden campaign—which says it can access more than $155 million in cash through various allies and committees—had more money on hand than the three Trump committees that disclosed on March 20 in a single committee. The principal campaign committee Biden for President reported it had about $71 million in cash on hand at the end of February.

In an email to reporters, Biden for President, sardonically asked: “Is trailing your opponent in cash on hand by nearly 4 to 1 and hitting up donors to help cover your own personal debts instead of funding your campaign a winning formula for November?”

“We are two weeks into the general election, and Donald Trump can’t raise money, is hiding at his country club, and is letting convicts and conspiracy theorists take over his campaign,“ Ammar Moussa, a spokeswoman for Biden for President, said in a release. ”That is not a winning strategy.”

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