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Primary meddlers revealed as Trump hoards his millions: Takeaways from new campaign finance reports

The election is just seven weeks away — but former President Donald Trump is still, so far, keeping his cash mostly to himself.

Major super PACs and party committees disclosed their August finances in a new round of campaign finance reports Tuesday, with some eye-catching results. The filings revealed that Trump’s leadership PAC was still sitting on nearly $100 million at the end of last month. And save for a contribution to a group that helped defeat Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in her primary, the PAC did not contribute anything to the battle for Congress, even amid fundraising struggles for some GOP candidates in notable races.

The filings also divulged the sources behind some last-second meddling in late primaries, and they revealed more information about who big donors are eyeing in the still-unofficial battle for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

Here are four big takeaways from this week’s reporting deadline for super PACs and committees, before candidates unload their campaign finance filings next month:

Primary meddling revealed

Super PACs from both parties dove into the final round of primary contests to boost their preferred nominees in key congressional races. In one case, it was a Democratic group boosting its preferred opponent. But the funding behind these efforts was a mystery — until this week.

House Majority PAC, Democrats’ flagship House super PAC, funded a group that jumped into the Sept. 13 GOP contest to challenge Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.). The super PAC made a $125,000 contribution on Aug. 25 to Democrats Serve, another super PAC that backs Democrats with public service backgrounds. That group ran nearly $570,000 in TV ads boosting Bob Burns, a far-right Republican who opposes abortion rights, over moderate GOP Mayor George Hansel, who was backed by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

House Majority PAC only had to disclose contributions made during the month of August on this reporting deadline, so it's possible the super PAC seeded Democrats Serve with even more money in early September. Another connection to the race: Abby Curran Horrell, House Majority PAC's executive director, was previously a top aide to Kuster.

Meanwhile, a GOP group that played in New Hampshire in favor of Hansel, American Liberty Action PAC, received funding from two lesser-known groups on the right that have been active in 2022 primaries.

American Liberty Action PAC got $1.6 million from the Eighteen Fifty Four Fund, a group formed by Kevin McLaughlin, a former National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director, that has tried to stymie far-right candidates in GOP primaries. American Liberty Action PAC also nabbed a $2.6 million transfer from American Prosperity Alliance, a group incorporated in May that lists Parker Poling, the 2020 National Republican Congressional Committee executive director, as a member of its board, according to OpenSecrets.

American Liberty Action PAC also spent in August GOP primaries to successfully block two controversial Republican candidates: Carl Paladino, a congressional hopeful in New York whose past comments include praising Adolf Hitler on the radio, and Anthony Sabatini, a MAGA-aligned state representative who sought a House seat in Florida.

Trump’s PAC spent millions on legal fees — and provided no new insight on fundraising

The former president’s leadership committee did not make any contributions to Republican candidates or causes in the month of August outside of a $150,000 donation to a PAC opposing Cheney. But it did spend $3.8 million on legal fees and a bit shy of $800,000 on events and travel. The group still has $99 million cash on hand, according to its latest filing.

Save America PAC primarily does its fundraising through another group, the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, which reports its finances on a different schedule. The joint committee did not shift any of its proceeds to Save America PAC in August, so the latter group’s monthly fundraising report does not include any information about the response generated by Trump’s massive fundraising operation in the wake of the Aug. 8 court-ordered search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. The joint committee has heavily cited the FBI search in fundraising appeals, and it reportedly saw a spike in donations.

Trump’s leadership PAC still has more resources on hand than either of the two parties' national committees. As of the end of August, the Democratic and Republican National Committees collectively had $80 million in the bank: $55.8 million for the DNC and $24.2 million for the RNC.

Congressional committees raise about the same — but Senate Dems have more in the tank

The Republican and Democratic congressional committees were at near-parity in August fundraising, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee outraising their Democratic counterparts by very narrow margins.

Both Senate committees raised about $12.6 million each. Senate Democrats’ campaign arm has significantly more money in the bank for the final stretch of the campaign — $45.8 million compared to $16 million for Republicans — giving the party more cash to move around in the final weeks of the campaign. (The NRSC has long maintained it always planned to frontload its spending, dropping more earlier in the cycle.)

The House campaigns are entering the final stretch with roughly the same amount of resources. The NRCC raised $15.6 million to the DCCC’s $15.5 million, and both have nine figures in the bank: $110.7 million for Democrats, and $113.2 million for Republicans.

More spending down the stretch will come from super PACs: Senate Majority PAC, the primary super PAC for Senate Democrats, reported $65.8 million cash on hand as of the end of August, while its House counterpart, House Majority PAC, reported $78 million in the bank.

The Republican Senate and House super PACs report on a quarterly, not monthly, schedule, so their latest numbers will not be available until next month, although they have outpaced Democrats so far this year. Senate Leadership Fund had just shy of $105 million cash on hand as of the end of June, while Congressional Leadership Fund reported nearly $140 million at the time.

Wynn’s big check and the 2024 shadow race

Casino mogul Steve Wynn resigned as RNC finance chair in 2018 amid sexual harassment allegations. But he hasn’t disappeared from politics.

Wynn gave $10 million in August to the super PAC Our American Century, his largest disclosed political donation ever. That group has recently gone on a tear, disclosing $5 million in advertising in battleground Senate races.

Meanwhile, the super PAC aligned with a potential 2024 Republican continues to attract significant support from major Republican donors. Opportunity Matters Fund, which is associated with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), brought in $2.5 million from Benjamin Navarro and $1 million from the political arm of the Club for Growth, a one-time ally of Trump that has clashed with him this year. Tech billionaire Larry Ellison has also been a major supporter of Scott, but he did not contribute last month.

Opportunity Matters Fund has run ads in several battleground states — including Iowa and Nevada — which feature Scott talking direct-to-camera while promoting a Republican candidate.

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