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Opinion | Trump Is Financially Ruining the Republican Party

Opinion | Trump Is Financially Ruining the Republican Party

Now with Mr. Trump the de facto nominee, some top donors will hold their noses and start paying their tributes. But how do you build a strong party when at least part of your money is going to the nominee’s eye-popping legal bills? Being multiply indicted costs big bucks (more than $100 million and counting in his case). The former president has avoided paying those expenses with his own money so far — court costs are for suckers! — instead relying on his fans’ donations to accounts related to his 2020 election-fraud lies. But those accounts are drying up. Fresh income streams must be found. Anyone need a $59.99 Bible?

Asked last month if she thought Republican voters would support the Republican National Committee footing Mr. Trump’s legal costs, Lara Trump, soon to be the committee’s co-chair, declared, “Absolutely.” I mean, what else is a good daughter-in-law supposed to say? Still, this possibility has raised enough eyebrows among donors that another Trump lackey, Chris LaCivita, who now oversees the R.N.C.’s operations, has vowed that committee funds will not be used for such.

Except! That doesn’t rule out slippery arrangements like the one in the invitation to an April 6 fund-raiser being hosted in Palm Beach, Fla., by the Trump 47 Committee, the fund-raising effort by the Trump campaign and the R.N.C. Individual attendees may contribute up to $814,600, with donations distributed accordingly: The first $6,600, the maximum allowed by federal law, will go into Mr. Trump’s campaign coffers. The next $5,000 (again, the legal limit) will flow to the Save America PAC, which is the primary vehicle used to pay Mr. Trump’s legal bills. The next tranche, up to $413,000, will go to the R.N.C., which, as noted, has effectively been turned into a Trump family joint. Anything remaining will trickle down to the party committees in various states.

So to review: Under the new fund-raising agreement, the entity handling Mr. Trump’s legal bills takes its bite before the party committees receive a penny. That smells about right.

As you might imagine, there are better places those dollars could go to help Republicans this election cycle. Multiple state parties have been plagued by financial troubles, including in Arizona, Michigan and Georgia — battleground states that could easily decide not only the presidential race but also control of the Senate and House. But time and money are being wasted on Trumpian drama, with factional infighting, poor leadership and, of course, legal troubles.

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