Trump’s False Election Claims Drain Donors and Cash from Swing State Republicans

Swing state Republicans bleed donors and cash over Trump’s false election claims

trump false election claims
A Memorable Moment: Kelli Ward warmly welcomes President Donald Trump at Yuma International Airport, Arizona, on August 18, 2020

Real estate tycoon Ron Weiser, a prominent donor to the Michigan Republican Party, has decided to cease his funding, citing concerns about the party’s management. Weiser disagrees with Republicans who propagate false claims about the election results and finds it illogical to assert that Donald Trump, who lost Michigan by 154,000 votes in 2020, actually won the state.

Expressing doubts about the party’s competence in utilizing funds effectively, Weiser stated, “I question whether the state party has the necessary expertise to spend the money well.”

The withdrawal of major donors like Weiser exemplifies the steep cost that Republicans in critical battleground states such as Michigan and Arizona are paying for their unwavering support of former President Trump and his baseless allegations of election fraud in 2020.

According to a review of financial records and interviews with six significant donors and three campaign experts conducted by Reuters, both parties have experienced substantial financial losses in recent years. This erosion of funds undermines the Republican efforts to reclaim these fiercely contested states, which could ultimately determine the outcome of the next presidential election and the control of the U.S. Congress in the upcoming November elections.

According to financial records, the state and federal accounts of Arizona’s Republican Party held less than $50,000 in available funds as of March 31st, signaling a limited cash reserve. This amount is meant to cover essential expenses such as rent, payroll, and political campaign operations. By comparison, the party possessed nearly $770,000 at the same period four years ago.

Similarly, the federal account of the Michigan party had approximately $116,000 on March 31, representing a decline from almost $867,000 two years earlier. As of now, the party has not provided updated financial details regarding its state account for the current year.

“Their ability to assist candidates is currently severely limited,” remarked Seth Masket, the director of the non-partisan Center on American Politics at the University of Denver. State parties play a crucial role in elections, supporting candidates, funding get-out-the-vote efforts, financing advertisements, and recruiting volunteers.

Arizona’s party filings reveal expenditures exceeding $300,000 on “legal consulting” fees last year, without specifying the nature of the legal services rendered. During that period, legal expenses were allocated to a firm that had filed lawsuits seeking to overturn Trump’s defeat in Arizona. Furthermore, funds were allocated to lawyers who represented Kelli Ward, the former chair of the party, during investigations conducted by the Justice Department and a congressional committee. These inquiries centered around Ward’s alleged participation in a scheme aimed at falsely certifying Trump’s triumph in Arizona.

Financial records indicate that over $500,000 was also spent in Arizona on an election night party and a bus tour for statewide candidates endorsed by Trump, all of whom lost in the 2020 midterm elections. These candidates supported Trump’s claims of election fraud.

Weiser is not the only donor who has decided to discontinue contributions. Five other Republican contributors who have donated tens of thousands of dollars to either the Arizona or Michigan parties over the past six years stated that they have also ceased their financial support. Their reasons include the state party’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election, the endorsement of unsuccessful candidates who promote Trump’s election conspiracy theories, and extreme positions on issues such as abortion.

Jim Click, a longstanding major Republican donor in Arizona, lamented the influence of the right wing within the party, saying, “It’s too bad we let the right wing of our party take over the operations.” Click and other donors expressed intentions to contribute directly to candidates or support them through alternative political fundraising groups.

Despite requests for comment, Kristina Karamo, the chair of the Michigan state party, did not provide a response. During her campaign for the position, she criticized established donors, accusing them of exploiting the party for personal gain, and expressed a desire to rely more on grassroots members.

After serving four years as the Arizona party chair, Kelli Ward stepped down in January and assured Reuters that her team had always managed to cover expenses and left her successor with at least three months’ worth of operating expenses, along with a robust fundraising operation. Dajana Zlaticanin, a spokesperson for the new chair Jeff DeWit, acknowledged the low cash reserves upon assuming the position but stated that contributions have been increasing, with over $40,000 raised in May.

The Republican National Committee, responsible for overseeing Republican political operations nationwide, did not provide a comment regarding the financial situation of the two state parties.

Both Arizona and Michigan, which were won by Joe Biden in 2020, are critical swing states that are likely to play a decisive role in the 2024 presidential race. However, not all Republican parties have faced the same financial challenges as Arizona and Michigan. For instance, North Carolina, another swing state where Republican leaders did not heavily focus on Trump’s election fraud claims, ended 2022 with nearly $800,000 in its federal accounts.

Assessing parties’ finances comprehensively is challenging due to reporting time lags and varying reporting requirements for different accounts. Additionally, state parties receive funds not only from individual donors but also from national party organizations, outside groups, and political action committees.

Michigan, in particular, became a center for conspiracy theories following Trump’s loss in 2020. Recently, Karamo, the chair of the Michigan state party, was fined by a county judge for filing a lawsuit containing unfounded claims about voting irregularities in Detroit.

Tensions surrounding transparency have escalated, with former state party budget chairman Matt Johnson criticizing Karamo shortly after being removed from his post. Johnson accused her of keeping the committee uninformed about the party’s finances and expressed concerns about the party’s excessive spending, which could potentially lead to bankruptcy.

Jason Roe, a former executive director of the Michigan Republican Party, commented on the party’s disclosed financial figures, stating that they highlight the difficulty of supporting operations without the backing of significant donors. He added, “They are effectively broke, and I don’t see their fundraising abilities improving anytime soon.”

The financial struggles faced by the two Republican state parties are further compounded by a significant reduction in donor contributions. Financial records reveal that the Michigan party’s federal account received $51,000 in the first three months of this year, putting it on track to raise less than a quarter of the amount raised in the first half of 2019, during the previous presidential election cycle.

Karamo mentioned in a meeting with local officials in March that the party had accumulated $460,000 in liabilities after the 2022 midterm elections. While not an unusually high amount, this debt is typically covered by fresh fundraising efforts.

In Arizona, the party raised approximately $139,000 in the first quarter of 2023, according to state and federal filings. By comparison, during the same period in 2019, following the 2018 midterm elections, the party raised over $330,000.

Jeff DeWit, the new chair of the Arizona Republican Party and former NASA chief financial officer under the Trump administration, is actively working to regain donors’ trust and make the party more appealing by emphasizing the importance of winning elections.

Several donors in Michigan have begun discussing alternative methods to support Republican candidates, bypassing the state party altogether. However, replicating the organizational strength of the state party would be challenging, according to Jeff Timmer, a former executive director of the Michigan Republican Party. He emphasized the need for a strong grassroots presence, which cannot be quickly established to ensure victory in the 2024 election.

Jonathan Lines, the former chairman of the Arizona Republican Party before Ward, expects new donor money to primarily flow to political action committees and other groups that fund campaigns rather

than the state party itself. He noted that the lack of adequate funding for the state party would have a detrimental impact on many Republican campaigns in the upcoming year.

In conclusion, the financial strain experienced by the Arizona and Michigan Republican Parties due to a decline in major donor contributions has raised concerns about their ability to effectively support candidates and conduct necessary campaign operations. The departure of influential donors, such as Ron Weiser, reflects growing dissatisfaction with the party’s handling of election-related issues and extreme positions on certain matters. These financial challenges have implications for the upcoming elections in these crucial swing states, potentially influencing the outcome of the 2024 presidential race.

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