On Monday, I wrote about questions surrounding the Trump campaign's finances. Specifically, a Huffington Post report was circulating noting that the topline FEC numbers suggested that the Trump campaign burned through $63 million last month. I contacted the Trump campaign, which offered no comment on that spending figure.
So I asked Liam Donovan, a campaign vet who's become a must follow on Twitter for his nuts and bolts analysis of the Trump campaign's finances, for his take on Trump's missing money. Donovan delivered a detailed response, suggesting that for all of the Trump campaign's issues with finances, the explanation for what's going on here may be benign:
Consider author Bob Burnett's premise, that there is $63 million in "missing" money somehow unaccounted for. More precisely he asserts that Trump must have spent that massive sum. Well, not so fast. Indeed, the campaign seems to have netted $17 million in July, but the $80 million denominator is way off base. Like Clinton (and Romney before him), Trump is playing up the total raised between the campaign and his affiliated Joint Fundraising Committees (JFCs.) Until we see the July filing (due 8/20) we won't know what the exact split looks like, but in June the broader figure was $51 million, of which just $23 million (45%) was contributed directly to the campaign. The balance was made up by Trump's two JFC's: the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a small dollar (80/20) split with the RNC, and the large dollar "Trump Victory" effort of which the campaign receives only the first $2700 of checks that can written for as much as $450,000. In June just $2.2 million (~8%) of the JFC cash was distributed to the campaign, although they carry significant balances and the campaign may yet be owed more. In other words, the $80 million figure is padded by tens of millions of dollars bound for the RNC, 11 state party signatories, and special, segregated funds held by the national party for specific purposes.
Even with a substantially smaller sum, it's difficult to understand what exactly Trump is spending millions on—though it was recently announced that Trump is finally going to start running TV ads in swing states. Still, it's worth reading Donovan's full response, and you can do that here.