Shortly after he lost the 2020 presidential election, Trump seized the opportunity to make money off his Big Lie by establishing a leadership political action committee called Save America. Leadership PACs can accept individual donations of up to $5,000 annually from an unlimited number of donors, and they can spend an unlimited amount on expenses such as travel and polling costs to support other candidates. However, in 2021 Save America’s spending on events for Trump was more than double the amount it spent to support other candidates, illustrating that his primary focus is on ensuring his own political future and fortune.
In June 2021, Save America donated $1 million to America First Policy Institute, a pro-Trump nonprofit. A month later, Save America doled out another $1 million to the Conservative Partnership Institute, a leadership academy for ultra-conservatives that is closely tied to Trump and is involved in voter suppression efforts.
In March 2022, American Bridge PAC filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that Trump had violated campaign finance law by “illegally using his multicandidate leadership PAC to raise and spend funds in excess of Commission limits for the purpose of advancing a 2024 presidential campaign.”
Some of the funds raised through the PAC were used to pay for the rally at the Ellipse that preceded the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, with nearly $9 million spent on “unclassifiable event expenses.” Fundraising events were held in Dallas and at Trump’s New Jersey golf course. Even though previous lawsuits against Trump have proven unsuccessful, the liberal American Bridge PAC asked the FEC to compel Trump to disclose his expenditures and to impose a hefty fine.
January 6, 2021
- In September 2021, Save America tweeted Trump’s support for the Jan. 6 insurrectionists a few days before the Sept. 18 Justice for J6 rally.
- The seemingly endless flow of funds to Save America has enabled Trump to keep a small circle of allies and advisers—many of whom played roles in aiding and abetting the insurrection—on his payroll. The PAC has also made payments to Abel Bean Law and Brand Woodward Law, firms that represent Trump allies under investigation in relation to the attack on the Capitol.
- In September 2022, news broke that the Justice Department’s federal grand jury investigating the insurrection was also probing the role of Save America.
The Big Lie
- Trump has repeatedly used the Save America PAC to keep spreading lies about the 2020 election, claiming, for example, that Biden won due to a “ballot harvesting scam [that] will go down as the biggest political scandal in history.”
- In August 2022, after the FBI seized government documents from Mar-a-Lago, Save America took advantage of another major fundraising opportunity, sending out a pitch in which Trump urged supporters to “rush in a donation IMMEDIATELY to publicly stand with me against this NEVERENDING WITCH HUNT.”