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More than half of the money given to Trump’s PAC came from retirees

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Shortly after losing the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump embarked on a hugely lucrative new political endeavor. The Save America Political Action Committee (PAC) was formed two days after the call for the race for Joe Biden and has since become a gathering place for tens of millions of Trump supporters.

This is not a normal campaign PAC, allowing Trump to pay certain expenses or contribute to other politicians. It’s a leadership PAC, letting him spend money as he pleases. Like, say, holding a big rally in front of the White House in an effort to retain power. Or pay her future daughter-in-law $60,000 to give a short speech at that rally.

The outsized fundraising Trump has engaged in since the election was the focus of Monday’s hearing by the House Select Committee investigating the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — the day of the rally and aforementioned speeches.

During the hearing, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) pointed out that political fundraising was an important vehicle for political discourse, one that Trump had exploited.

“Small donors use scarce disposable income to support the candidates and causes of their choice to raise their voices, and these donors deserve the truth about where those funds are used,” Lofgren said. “Throughout the committee’s investigation, we found evidence that the Trump campaign and his surrogates misled donors about where their funds were going and what they would be used for. So not only was there the “big lie”, but there was also the “big scam”. ”

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It can be difficult to quantify the ways in which people contribute to political campaigns. Not all contributions need to be declared, and Trump’s team, like other politicians, raised money for multiple PACs at the same time. A review of Federal Election Commission records for the Save America PAC and a Save America Joint Fundraising Committee (JFC), however, gives some idea of ​​who contributed to Trump’s efforts and how much.

Records since November 2020 include more than 2.5 million contributions directly to PAC, JFC, or through WinRed, a Republican contribution platform. Contributions reported to the FEC include information about the donor’s occupation or, if applicable, whether they are retired. This data allows us to see that almost two-thirds of these 2.5 million contributions came from people who indicated their profession as “retired”. More than 6 in 10 were contributions of $100 or less from retirees.

It is somewhat misleading. If someone donates $50 40 times, they have donated $2,000 in total, but appear as 40 small donations. This is the caveat that should be applied to Lofgren’s claim that the average contribution was $17; many people made multiple contributions. (Some of them did it unwittingly.) But they’re probably not big donors either, who tend to write big checks all at once.

We can also look at the total amount raised by the committees identified above, a sum totaling just under $121 million. About 57% of that total came from people listed as retired. More than a third came from retirees making contributions of $100 or less (with the same caveat).

The difference between the two tables, of course, stems from the fact that contributions over $100 necessarily represent a larger portion of the total amount raised. Three percent of contributions came from non-retired people who donated big chunks; they donated a fifth of the total amount collected.

It’s not entirely surprising that Trump receives more contributions from retirees. For one thing, retirees are often more politically engaged than younger Americans. On the other hand, Americans 50 and older generally preferred Trump over Biden in 2020. Those under 50 were more likely to vote for Biden. Six in 10 Trump voters were 50 or older that year.

This also only takes into account two fundraising vehicles that Trump has deployed. It just gives an idea of ​​who was giving Trump and how much they were giving. Most contributions were $100 or less, although individual donors were able to give more. Most of the donors were retirees and most of the funds raised came from them.

Where the money went or will go is a more difficult question to answer.

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