By Gabby Orr, Dan Merica and Fredreka Schouten, CNN
Several top allies of Donald Trump will launch a new super PAC to buoy Republican candidates who have earned the former President’s support in the midterm elections, CNN has learned, following months of minimal spending by Trump-aligned groups that has left party strategists frustrated as they work to fill the void.
Called MAGA, Inc., the new group will meld with an existing Trump-sanctioned super PAC that has been mostly overseen by former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell. As of last month, that group had spent slightly more than $2 million to boost Trump-backed Senate and House candidates in their primary races earlier this year.
“President Trump is committed to saving America, and Make America Great Again, Inc. will ensure that is achieved at the ballot box in November and beyond,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said in a statement Friday.
Budowich has been charged with running the new super PAC, along with former Trump campaign aide Steven Cheung, who will serve as its communications director; longtime Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio; veteran GOP operative Chris LaCivita, who will become the group’s chief strategist; and Sergio Gor, whose conservative publishing outfit released Trump’s first post-presidential book last year (a collection of White House and campaign trail photographs) and will serve as a senior adviser to MAGA, Inc.
The newest Trump fundraising vehicle was first reported by Politico.
With the November elections fast approaching, Trump has been under pressure to dip into the mountain of cash raised by his leadership PAC, Save America, and the Bondi-run group to boost federal and non-federal candidates who drew his support in their primaries but are trailing or running too close for comfort against their Democratic opponents. The former President had more than $103 million in his coffers at the end of August, according to the most recently available Federal Election Commission data. People familiar with the matter said most of those funds will be transferred to MAGA, Inc., which is expected to start spending immediately in key midterm races.
Federal records show that Trump’s main fundraising vehicle, Save America, has contributed more than $8.4 million to candidates and committees at the federal, state and local level since January 2021 — a significant sum, but virtually nothing compared to what other major Republican groups have committed and only about $1.4 million more than what the former President has spent on legal fees this cycle (nearly $7 million). The pro-GOP Senate Leadership Fund is spending about $205 million on advertisements in Senate races this cycle, per a CNN analysis, which includes what the group has already spent and its ad reservations over the next month. Meanwhile, the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is aligned with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, is planning to spend $141 million this fall on ads alone.
Trump aides have long insisted that his spending is supplemented by the campaign rallies and fundraisers he has held to benefit various Republicans, along with his coveted endorsement, which helped many of his chosen candidates prevail in contested primaries earlier this year. But others say the lack of financial assistance from the former President shouldn’t be discounted.
“Trump never went out of his way to help candidates — unless he sees a way that it helps him. His camp says, ‘Well, he’s helping them by doing these events,’ which I would say aren’t actually that helpful because you never know whether Trump is going to insult the candidate,” said Doug Heye, a GOP strategist and former communications director for the Republican National Committee.
A person familiar with the new group said it will spend “heavily” in key Senate and gubernatorial races this fall but declined to disclose a target amount of which specific contests the Trump-backed super PAC plans to focus on. Another person close to Trump said the group had been in the planning stages for several months and is likely to become part of his campaign apparatus if he launches a third presidential bid, as is widely expected.
After months of eyeing a pre-midterm launch date for a 2024 campaign, Trump is now waiting to see how Republicans perform in November — hoping to avoid blame if the party’s overall gains prove disappointing.
“He’s been convinced there’s no upside to doing it before the midterms and plenty of potential downsides. Right now, the goal is Q1 of next year but, of course, once the election has passed, he could really do it at any time,” a Trump adviser said.
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