Donald Trump is rebooting his campaign Monday after several news stories portrayed an operation in trouble.
First, Trump fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, in a surprise meeting Monday morning. Then, Monday evening, a Federal Election Commission report came to light showing Trump had only raised around $3.1 million and loaned himself around $2 million, leaving his presidential campaign with only $1.3 million cash on hand.
Hillary Clinton, by comparison, raised around $26 million, leaving her with $46 million cash on hand.
Rep. Paul Ryan, who is in a largely uncontested race to retain his House seat (he is ahead of his closest competitor by around 70 points), has approximately six times more cash on hand than his presidential nominee. Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson is just a little less than a million dollars behind Trump in cash on hand.
Trump’s May expenditures paint a picture of a campaign struggling to control its operation and manage its spending. Trump routinely pays himself or his properties rental fees for their facilities, including a nearly half-million-dollar rental fee for his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, $35,000 for his Florida golf club, $125,000 for meals in his own restaurants, and $72,800 to rent offices in Trump Tower.
Recipients of payments from Trump campaign with “Trump” in name, through May 31. Doesn’t include Mar-a-Lago/planes. pic.twitter.com/JF6skaWYGF
— Derek Willis (@derekwillis) June 21, 2016
It appears, in one case, that Trump spent more on his ‘Make America Great Again’ hats than on conducting push polls and launching digital ads.
Trump campaign expenses in May, per @FEC report:
Online advertising: $115k
Data management: $48k
Communications consulting: $38k
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) June 21, 2016
Staffing for Trump’s operation also seems in flux. The campaign had a number of expenditures to consulting companies and advisers that seem within reason ($10,000 to his communications guru Katrina Piersen, $14,000 to a respected adviser on Middle East policy), but some of the line items seem wildly expensive. For instance, the campaign spent more than $543,000 for Internet consulting (at least one Twitter user questioned whether this could be payment for what seems to be an extensive social media seeding campaign).
That has left Trump with barely enough money to run a campaign for, perhaps, a city commissioner race in a middle-class town in Iowa. His campaign can barely afford the average listing price for a condo in his Chicago Trump Tower.
There is still time for Trump to turn his campaign around. According to sources close to the GOP, he has only contacted three of about 20 major Republican donors willing to take his call. There are untapped financial resources still waiting in the wings—and Trump seems like he may finally be getting the message that a presidential campaign is serious business.
If the campaign shifts its focus to advertising and digital media—and adds lots of on-the-ground campaign staff —they could make a dent in the fiscal disparity before the Republican National Convention, particularly considering that Trump benefits greatly from name recognition and free media-led publicity. Those things give him a leg up even absent fundraising prowess. Tomorrow is another day, and July 1st is another FEC filing deadline.
Meanwhile, Hillary is probably somewhere tonight, popping an extra, celebratory calcium supplement.