Once upon a time not terribly long ago, federal politicians more or less kept their campaigning to election years. They reserved their energies in odd-numbered, non-election years for legislating and governing.
No longer. This decade’s swift shift from such norms reached a crescendo in 2017, led by President Donald Trump’s pursuit of 2020 re-election cash, underway even before he took his first oath of office.
Super PACs, political party committees and federal candidates themselves followed suit, together generating hundreds of millions of dollars toward the 2018 midterms, 2020 presidential election and a couple of white-hot special congressional elections that attracted eight-figure investments from national-level interests.
Such political powers closed their financial books for 2017 on Wednesday night, reporting how they raised and spent their money, and disclosing how much of it they had going into a year when Democrats are racing to regain control of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate and Republicans are fighting to preserve the level of power they’ve enjoyed since Trump swept into the White House.
Here’s a by-the-numbers look at some of the more intriguing, telling and odd figures the Center for Public Integrity discovered in this latest round of campaign finance filings:
$43,365,652: How much Trump’s re-election campaign has raised so far through the end of 2017. That’s not even counting donors that gave money right before Trump’s State of the Union address — Trump offered them the perk of seeing their names appear on his campaign’s Facebook video live feed of his speech Tuesday to Congress. Raising so much money this soon is unprecedented; former President Barack Obama, for one, didn’t even announce he was running for re-election until the third year of his first term. But Trump is certainly a different kind of candidate, having filed re-election paperwork on Jan. 20, 2017 — the day of his inauguration.
$6.9 million: What Trump's re-election campaign raised in the final three months of 2017. The campaign spent $2.8 million in that same timeframe, with about $54,000 going to Trump-owned businesses, for rent, legal consulting, and a “meeting expense.” More than a third of what Trump’s campaign spent during this time period — about $1.1 million — went toward legal expenses. About $25,000 covered costs for making campaign paraphernalia such as hats, stickers and glasses.
$22.1 million: Trump’s campaign cash on hand at the end of 2017.
$0: How much money Trump has personally invested in his 2020 campaign, so far.
$35,000: Minimum amount per month pro-Trump super PAC Rebuilding America Now spends on political consulting performed by the group’s managing director, Laurance Gay, in 2017 alone. The group hasn’t spent a dime on actual political activity, but the Daily Beast reported it plans to target former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters of California. (Super PACs may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for and against political candidates.)