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Where The Money For Trump's 'Election Defense' Fund Will Really Go

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Where The Money For Trump's 'Election Defense' Fund Will Really Go

Nov 11 (Reuters) - As President Donald Trump seeks to discredit last week’s election with baseless claims of voter fraud, his team has bombarded his supporters with requests for money to help pay for legal challenges to the results: “The Left will try to STEAL this election!” reads one text. But any small-dollar donations from Trump’s grassroots donors won’t be going to legal expenses at all, according to a Reuters review of the legal language in the solicitations.  A donor would have to give more than $8,000 before any money goes to the “recount account” established to finance election challenges, including recounts and lawsuits over alleged improprieties, the fundraising disclosures show.  The emailed solicitations send supporters to an “Official Election Defense Fund” website that asks them to sign up for recurring donations to “protect the results and keep fighting even after Election Day.”  The fine print makes clear most of the money will go to other priorities.  A large portion of the money goes to “Save America,” a Trump leadership PAC, or political action committee, set up on Monday, and the Republican National Committee (RNC). Under Federal Election Commission rules, both groups have broad leeway in how they can use the funds.  The Trump campaign, the RNC and Trump’s new Save America PAC did not respond to requests for comment.  Leadership PACs such as Save America are often set up by prominent political figures to spend money on other candidates, while also paying for personal expenses, such as travel and hotel stays.  The disclosures would allow Trump and the RNC to channel the donations into other political causes or campaigns, such as the two high-stakes January Senate runoff races in Georgia that could determine control of the Senate and are likely to rank among the most expensive races in U.S. history.  Trump’s solicitation website carries a banner headline that says “OFFICIAL ELECTION DEFENSE FUND” and “CONTRIBUTE NOW.”  Scrolling down the page would take a donor to the fine print, which shows that donations are split between “Save America,” which gets 60% of the money, and the RNC, which gets the other 40%. None of the money flows to Trump’s official”recount” committee fund until Trump’s Save America share reaches the legal contribution limit of $5,000, according to the disclosures.  That means that, before a dollar goes into the recount fund,Save America would receive $5,000 and the RNC around $3,300. Donations to the recount committee are legally limited to $2,800.  If a Trump donor gave $500, for instance, $300 would go to Trump’s Save America PAC, $200 would to the RNC - and nothing would go to his election defense fund.  One Republican political strategist said Trump is misleading supporters who might give small donations to whatever cause heapproves. “It’s important to be up front with people - especiallythose who are digging deep into their pockets to come up with$25,” said Michael DuHaime, a former political director.

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