March 30, 2023

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

Legal payments are a bulk Mar-a-Lago is going to the lawyers representing him in the document case

The $3,886,999 in legal consulting expenses includes a $3 million check written on Aug. 30 to the law firm Creighton, Luthier & Coleman, LLP. The firm is located in Palm Beach, Fla., less than three miles from Trump’s Mar-A. Lagos Club

Former Florida Solicitor General Chris Keys is not currently listed as an attorney at the firm, but Keys was reportedly paid $3 million up front to represent Trump. According to Politico. Kise was previously a partner at Foley & Lardner, but severed ties with the firm after Trump hired him. Kise filed articles of incorporation with the state of Florida on August 24 and entered his first appearance on behalf of Trump on September 1.

Neither the firm nor Keys responded to CBS News’ request for comment on the payment. A spokeswoman for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

Save America also paid $207,827 to Trump attorney Alina Hubbar’s firm, Hubbar Madaio & Associates, LLP.

Ifrah Law PLLC, Trump’s firm Attorney James Trustee, 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.

Save America PAC has also paid several attorneys in other legal cases involving Trump, including the Fulton County District Attorney’s investigation into whether Trump and allies tried to illegally overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The law firm of Atlanta-based criminal defense attorney Drew Findling received $91,209 from the PAC. Findling, a former Trump critic, is representing Trump in the Fulton County case.

Timothy Parlatore’s firm received $29,870.54 from the PAC in August. Parlatore is a lawyer who Represented by Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano During his brief appearance before a House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

While another committee, the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, is the primary fundraising vehicle for the former president, Save America PAC still holds most of Trump’s cash. The PAC reported $92.7 million in cash on hand at the end of August and spent more than $6 million.

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

Trump’s PAC, which is billed as a “leadership PAC” to support other candidates, donated $150,000 in August to the “Wyoming Values ​​PAC,” a group opposed to Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, who has pledged her support to a Trump-backed candidate. Lost re-election bid, Harriet Hageman.

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

If Trump runs for president

Trump’s large war chest raises questions about what would happen if he announced he was running for president in 2024. If Trump decides to run, he has to, said Erin Klopak, a senior director for campaign finance at the Campaign Legal Center. Create a candidate committee. Money from his leadership PAC cannot be transferred directly to this candidate committee, which will have stricter limits on how much he can raise than the leadership PAC. Save America will be led by the PAC.

In practical terms, Trump’s leadership PAC money cannot be used for campaigning if he announces a presidential bid. Right now, he’s able to use Save America PAC funds for rallies he does for other candidates, and since he’s no longer a candidate himself, FEC rules allow it.

Trump could also likely argue that his existing leadership PAC funds can still be used for his legal expenses, even if he runs.

Klopak said while leadership PACs should not be used for “personal expenses” such as personal legal bills, the FEC has not subjected leadership PACs under those rules.

“We routinely see leadership PACs being used as essentially slush funds for office holders’ personal piggy banks. And that was a real concern, obviously, with Trump’s leadership PAC successfully raising so much money. To use his money for estates or family members or other As for paying expenses, it wouldn’t be allowed if it was an official campaign fund,” Klopak said.

But Klopak said that if Trump announces a 2024 run and has to start another candidate committee, the FEC will be stricter about using campaign funds to pay for more private legal fees. He said they would look on a case-by-case basis to see if that counts as “personal.”

It is up to the FEC’s discretion whether he can use candidate committee funds for expenses such as legal fees related to the search for Mar-a-Lago documents, Klopak said.

“The legal standard is if personal expenses exist, regardless of the candidate – such as divorce proceedings or traffic tickets. If this applies, the answer is [Mar-a-Lago case] It’s a close call, since it involves his status as president,” he said.

“It’s a significant amount of money that’s been raised so far, so I think we’re all standing by to see what’s going to happen,” he added.

Melissa Quinn contributed to this report.

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