Trump’s PAC spends more than $3.8 million in legal fees in August


Former President Donald Trump spent more than $3.8 million in “legal advice” fees in August, the month the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago home, according to a campaign finance report for his “Save America” ​​political action committee. .

A large part of the legal payments are: go to lawyers who represent him in the Mar-a-Lago documents case.

The $3,886,999 in legal consulting fees includes a $3 million check written to the law firm of Critton, Luttier & Coleman, LLP on Aug. 30. The company is located in Palm Beach, Florida, less than three miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.

Former Florida Attorney General Chris Kise is not currently listed as one of the firm’s attorneys, but Kise reportedly paid $3 million upfront to represent Trump. according to Politico. Kise was previously a partner at Foley & Lardner, but his ties to the company were severed when he was hired by Trump. Kise filed statutes with the state of Florida on August 24 and first appeared for Trump on September 1.

Neither the company nor Kise responded to CBS News’ requests for comment on the payment. A Trump spokesperson also did not respond to a request for comment.

Save America also paid $207,827 to “Habba Madaio & Associates, LLP,” the firm of Trump attorney Alina Habba.

Ifrah Law PLLC, the Trump firm attorney James Trusty, received $242,770. Trump attorney Evan Corcoran’s firm, Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, LLC, received $68,413.

Christina Bobb, another member of Trump’s legal team, received $12,051 in payroll payments from the PAC.

The Save America PAC has also made payments to several attorneys in other lawsuits involving Trump, including the Fulton County District Attorney’s investigation into whether Trump and allies were illegally attempting to reverse the 2020 presidential election.

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Atlanta-based criminal defense attorney Drew Findling’s law firm received $91,209 from the PAC. Findling, a former Trump critic, represents Trump in the Fulton County case.

Timothy Parlatore’s company received $29,870.54 from the PAC in August. Parlatore is a lawyer who: represented Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano during his brief appearance before the House Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol.

While another committee, the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, is the primary fundraising tool for the former president, the Save America PAC still has a majority of Trump’s cash on hand. The PAC reported $92.7 million in cash and more than $6 million spent in late August.

The Joint Fundraising Committee will report in mid-October what it has collected from June through August.

Trump’s PAC, billed as a “leadership PAC” to support other candidates, donated $150,000 in August to the Wyoming Values ​​PAC, a group opposing Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, who lost her reelection race to a Trump-backed candidate, Harriet Hageman.

Throughout the year, the PAC has made more than $7.2 million in contributions to other federal or state campaigns. In comparison, the PAC also spent $7,555,168.09 on event fees for the numerous Trump candidate rallies.

When Trump Runs for President

Trump’s large war chest has raised questions about what would happen to it if he announces he will become president in 2024. Erin Chlopak, a senior campaign finance director at the Campaign Legal Center, said that if Trump decides to flee, he will set up a nominating committee. The money from his leadership PAC cannot be transferred directly to this nominee committee, which would have stricter restrictions on how much he can raise compared to a leadership PAC. Save America would remain a leadership PAC.

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In practical terms, Trump’s leadership’s PAC money could not be used for campaigns if he announces a presidential bid. So far, he’s been able to use Save America’s PAC funds for the rallies he’s holding for other candidates, and since he’s not a candidate himself at this point, FEC rules allow it.

Trump can also probably make the argument that the existing PAC leadership funds he has on hand can still be used for his legal costs, even if he does run for office.

Chlopak said that while leadership PACs may not be used for “personal expenses” such as personal legal bills, the FEC has not subjected leadership PACs to those rules.

“We routinely see leadership PACs being used essentially as slush funds for office holders’ personal piggy banks. And that was clearly a real concern with a Trump leadership PAC that has successfully raised so much property or for paying. from family members or other expenses, that wouldn’t be allowed if it were an official campaign fund,” Chlopak said.

But Chlopak said if Trump declares a 2024 run and has to start a new candidate committee, the FEC would be stricter about using campaign funds for more personal legal costs. She said they’d look at it on a case-by-case basis if it counts as “personal.”

Whether he can use the candidate committee’s funds to pay for expenses, such as legal fees related to the search for Mar-a-Lago documents, is at the discretion of the FEC, Chlopak said.

“The legal norm is whether the personal expense would exist regardless of the candidate – such as divorce proceedings or a traffic fine. The answer to whether that applies to the [Mar-a-Lago case] is a close call because it is intertwined with his status as president,” she said.

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“It’s a remarkable amount that has been raised so far, so I think we’re all ready to see what happens,” she added.

Melissa Quinn contributed to this report.