Trump's political operation, Republican groups paid millions to Jan. 6 organizers: watchdog

Kenneth Tran
USA TODAY

Political operations linked to former President Donald Trump and the GOP gave millions to those that organized the Jan. 6 rally before a mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, according to a watchdog group.

OpenSecrets, a non-profit research group that focuses on campaign finance, found that Trump's political network and other Republican Party groups gave at least $12.6 million to the organizers since the 2020 election cycle began.

Trump and his affiliates haven't turned off the funding spigot since the riot, according to OpenSecrets, which found millions of dollars in contributions to the rally organizers during the 2022 cycle.

Takeaways from Thursday's Jan. 6 hearing:Trump called Pence a 'wimp' as VP resisted 'pressure campaign' to overturn election

OpenSecrets says “the full extent of the payments” could not be confirmedbecause the Trump campaign made payments through a vendor known as American Made Media Consultants LLC. The campaign paid “more than $771 million through the firm.” The details of the payments were hidden, making it difficult to see how the money was used, according to OpenSecrets.

The firm Event Strategies has received the bulk of the Trump campaign’s payments, receiving $6.9 million since election day 2020. Event Strategies received the permit for the rally on the Ellipse before rioters breached the Capitol. 

President Trump is pictured speaking to his supporters at a rally on the Ellipse near the White House on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump’s operation also paid BlueBonnet fundraising $590,000 during the 2020 cycle. BlueBonnet’s founder, Caroline Wren, was listed as a “VIP Advisor” under the permit to hold the Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse. 

According to ProPublica, Wren “boasted of having raised $3 million to support the rally.” She also “parked” an unspecified amount of funds to multiple groups possibly to add “a layer of confidentiality for the donor,” Dustin Stockton, former Trump fundraiser, told ProPublica.

Where the money came from

In the Jan. 6 Committee's second public hearing revealing the findings of its year-long investigation, the committee argued Trump and his team raised $250 million off of false claims of election fraud. Emails to potential donors invited them to donate to an “Election Defense Fund.” The committee said its investigations found no evidence such a fund exists. 

Trump raised millions to fight fraud:Here's how that money was spent.

An image of former U.S. President Donald Trump is shown on a screen during the second hearing held by the January 6 Committee on the U.S. Capitol on June 13, 2022.

Hanna Allred, a former Trump campaign staffer, told the committee she didn’t “believe there was actually a fund called the Election Defense Fund.” Gary Coby, former Trump digital director, said it was fair to call the fund “a marketing tactic.” 

The committee also revealed that from this purported “Election Defense Fund,” the campaign paid “over $5 million to Event Strategies Inc, the company that ran President Trump's January 6th rally on the Ellipse.”

Committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. "So not only was there the big lie, there was the big rip off. Donors deserve to know where their funds are really going."

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Jan. 6 Committee, speak to reporters at the end of the second hearing on the January 6th investigation in the Cannon House Office Building on June 13, 2022 in Washington, DC.