We sued the FEC to hold Trump accountable for raising money. Here's why we did it.
Trump is collecting unlimited donations to put into an unregulated political war chest and spending large sums of money to attack President Biden and boost his own 2024 presidential prospects.
In the days following the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago estate, Donald Trump sent his supporters more than 100 fundraising emails. Subject lines screamed that law enforcement officers "BROKE INTO MY HOME" and "THIS IS INSANE." It worked – Trump brought in millions to his political war chest.
News coverage focused on the former president's potential violation of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and the concealment, removal or mutilation of government documents. There’s good reason for this fixation – possible treason and the potential theft of nuclear codes should concern all Americans.
So, too, should the fact that the person who might have committed these crimes is getting a potentially illegal head start on taking back the White House.
Spend, travel, speak like a candidate? Let's treat you like one.
Trump is spending like a candidate, traveling like a candidate and speaking like a candidate. Most important, he has not only hinted he’s a candidate but also said he is seeking the presidency in 2024.
Under Federal Election Commission guidelines, he should be treated like a candidate and subjected to campaign finance regulations – such as being able to collect only $2,900 per election from individuals.
Yet, Trump is fundraising without limits in broad daylight while the FEC sits on a complaint filed in March. Because of the FEC’s inaction, Republican candidates who wish to enter the 2024 presidential race could face an opponent who’s raising unlimited amounts of money with no spending restrictions.
In the absence of FEC action, my group, American Bridge 21st Century, filed suit against the agency to compel it to investigate. We believe Trump should be held to the same standard as any other federal candidate for office.
'I've already made that decision'
Here’s how we got here:
►The rules are clear – once an individual makes the decision to become a candidate, they are obligated to file a statement of candidacy within 15 days of receiving contributions or making expenditures of more than $5,000 to influence their election.
►In February, Trump addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando. When talking about a potential 2024 presidential bid, he said, "We did it twice and we'll do it again. ... We're going to be doing it again a third time."
►In July, during an interview with New York magazine's Olivia Nuzzi, when asked whether he would run in 2024, Trump said, "I've already made that decision." If you watch Trump’s rallies or read his Truth Social ramblings, it’s clear he’s running for president.
Now, Trump is collecting unlimited donations to put into an unregulated political war chest and spending large sums of money to attack President Joe Biden and boost his own 2024 presidential prospects. Trump’s Save America political action committee has spent more than $100,000 per week on Facebook ads and has consistently raised more than $1 million per week.
Mar-a-Lago search was a 'political defibrillator':Republicans saw Trump's end finally looming. Then the FBI gave his message a jolt of life.
Trump is even skirting his banishment from the Meta-world via his PAC. His ads, which feature false claims about the 2020 election, are being served to voters across the United States. A Facebook ad from June reads, “Would you vote for Trump a 3rd Time?”
Level the playing field to protect democracy
Since the 2020 election, we’ve seen Trump and his endorsed candidates working overtime to change electoral rules and skirt the will of the people.
Indictment over fundraising plan:Steve Bannon indicted over alleged fundraising scheme? Time for a fundraiser!
Precious few protections remain to put candidates on a level playing field and protect our democracy. The FEC and other watchdog agencies must hold those who break the law accountable.
Their failure to act is an in-kind donation to Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign. We’re out to stop it.
Jessica Floyd is president of American Bridge 21st Century.