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How Trump's Political Operation Plowed Through $1B

'10 monkeys with flamethrowers' couldn't have done worse
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 21, 2020 4:39 AM CDT

(Newser) – President Donald Trump’s sprawling political operation has raised well over $1 billion since he took the White House in 2017—and set a lot of it on fire. Trump bought a $10 million Super Bowl ad when he didn’t yet have a challenger. He tapped his political organization to cover exorbitant legal fees related to his impeachment. Aides made flashy displays of their newfound wealth—including a fleet of luxury vehicles purchased by Brad Parscale, his former campaign manager. Meanwhile, a web of limited liability companies hid more than $310 million in spending from disclosure, records show. Now, just two weeks out from the election, some campaign aides privately acknowledge they are facing difficult spending decisions at a time when Democratic nominee Joe Biden has flooded the airwaves with advertising, the AP reports.

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“They spent their money on unnecessary overhead, lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous activity by the campaign staff and vanity ads,” said Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican consultant who advised John McCain and Jeb Bush and is an outspoken Trump critic. “You could literally have 10 monkeys with flamethrowers go after the money, and they wouldn’t have burned through it as stupidly.” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien insisted money was no issue. “We have more than sufficient air cover, almost three times as much as 2016,” when Trump was vastly outraised by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton but still pulled off a come-from-behind win, he told reporters Monday. (Read the full story here; it includes a list of "questionable expenditures" spent by Trump and the RNC including millions on Trump-branded properties, Trump merch, and copies of Donald Trump Jr.'s book.)


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