The Trump campaign entered the year with over a billion dollars in their campaign's "war chest," but their campaign was seemingly broke heading into the late summer and crucial fall election season.
Where did all the money go?
Many including myself speculated at the time and, for their part, Trumpworld figures pointed their fingers at his former campaign manager Brad Parscale who was promptly thrown under the bus and arrested for domestic violence after his glorified "Death Star" meme-machine failed to move the polling needles.
But was Parscale really responsible for misspending the campaign's money?
I'm sure Parscale wasn't innocent because no one within Trumpworld is innocent, but Business Insider first reported today that Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is responsible for setting up a shell company the campaign used to funnel money to themselves. And we're talking about a lot of money; a majority of that billon dollar war chest that vanished.
From January 2019 through the middle of November 2020, the Trump campaign and an affiliated political committee together spent $617 million through American Made Media Consultants.
It was almost half of everything they spent in the failed effort to reelect Trump, according to an Insider review of Federal Election Commission records and analysis provided by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Some Trump advisors have long accused Parscale of trying to hide money from the now-outgoing president, occasionally citing AMMC as an example of his obfuscation.
But the campaign actually spent the bulk of the money at AMMC — $415 million — after Trump fired Parscale as campaign manager on July 15.
Business Insider reports that AMMC counted vice president Mike Pence's nephew, John Pence, among its paid members. Eric Trump's wife, Lara Trump, was also paid by AMMC as was Donald Trump Jr's girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle. And while AMMC was used for some legitimate expenses like purchasing campaign ads on television, no one knows how much was paid to its board members.
It's hard to say who is telling the truth -- and it's possible that none of them are -- but figures close to Parscale say the campaign was not actually broke when Bill Stepien took over as Trump's campaign manager. Sources close to Parscale say Jared Kushner intentionally hid funds from Stepien and that made him think the campaign was broke. And, believing they were broke, Stepien reduced the campaign's spending while Kushner and AMMC actually increased their spending. That can apparently be seen in the $415 million they spent after Parscale was fired.
It's mildly depressing to say that it's possible that none of this was illegal and that just goes to show you how corrupt campaign finance can be when trusted to the worst people in the world.
This isn't even your average quid pro quo of a corporation or wealthy individual buying favors or access through donations. The typical idea of corrupt campaign finance is almost quaint in the Trump era. Trump built a cult of personality, took over a political party, and used it to funnel nearly a billion dollars from various campaigns to himself and those close to him. And most of it was done legally using financial products and shady business tactics; like if a private equity firm and a loan shark merged and ran for president.
And none of it matters to Republicans. They may love him even more for so efficiently scamming the world. "Like a business."