The New Finances of Politics

Turning lies into profits has proved hugely successful. New federal financial reports show that the pressures of losing have actually helped Trump raise $13 million per day over the past two months. What are the long term financial implication on other elections?

The MAGA movement fundamentally changed the finances of American politics. Since the time two months ago when it appeared highly likely to independent observers that he would lose the election, Trump and his fundraisers have raised $13 million per day primarily through text message appeals to the MAGA crowd. Yesterday the Trump campaign, the RNC, Trump Victory, and Trump Make America Great Again Committee, filed reports with the Federal Election Commission for the reporting period of Oct. 15 to Nov. 23 disclosing that they collectively raised a total of $495 million in tis short time.

Since there are no laws that the text message appeals to donors need to be factual or honest, the people solicited have been misled with false statements and sophisticated appeals to their emotions. It is easy to argue that election finance laws are specifically designed to allow legalized fraud. The fundraisers target the cognitive weaknesses in potential donors through brilliantly designed fundraising messages. This explains why most MAGA individuals believed that he would certainly win the election despite other more credible data, will still win the election through post-election maneuvers despite all other sources, will be president despite losing the election based on speculator fantasies, and will be president again in the future. There are no signs that this unprecedented financial campaign will slow down.

In fact, the financial appeals for Trump’s 2024 campaign are expected to begin soon and will likely be the strongest early financial campaign in our country’s history. Trump is clearly able to leverage his folk hero status and polished TV image as a successful businessman among the MAGA crowd into an extremely profitable cash generating machine. The money is funneled through a Political Action Committee, better known as a “PAC”, a type of organization authorized by federal law that bypasses the limits of campaign contributions and allows Trump to use the money without the usual restrictions imposed on campaign funds.

What effect will this have on other federal, state and local political fundraising? The Republican National Committee has indicated that it is willing to consider backing other candidates outside of Trump and the MAGA circle. Will this fragment the parties’ fundraising?

My own role is focused and limited to the required accounting and legal compliance of political campaigns, including a PAC. I have set up the mechanics of text message based donation campaigns. I know that this relatively new technology is a mechanically efficient process. Most of my campaign clients have been independents or Democrats. Only two were Republicans. I understand that it would be expensive but still highly profitable to run a text message based fundraising campaign like Trump is doing. It is not clear to me, in my limited capacity as an accountant, whether others will be able to be as successful following this newly proven strategy. My observation and personal opinion is that other candidates of both parties are light years behind in their ability to manipulate voters into this type of cash-generating machine. Yet I do not doubt that Trump’s fundraising success will cause future fundraising campaigns to copy this proven strategy of appealing to the ‘dark side’ of voters. I regret to conclude that fundraising based on fantasy – storied completely separated from facts and reality – will increase in the future. I’ll be watching for other Republicans who follow this same financial strategy. Some observers write that it is unlikely that Democrats or independent candidates would be as successful in this type of strategy. I tend to agree but that’s well outside my area of expertise.

In summary, I see huge financial potential ahead for this completely legal method of turning lies into a profitable long term business model. While it isn’t clear who will do this, I have no doubt that others will follow.

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