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Six takeaways from campaign fundraising filings by Trump, Haley, Santos and more

<i>Getty</i><br/>First-quarter campaign filings have come in from Trump
First-quarter campaign filings have come in from Trump

By Fredreka Schouten and David Wright, CNN

Former President Donald Trump‘s criminal indictment helped jolt his fundraising. GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley faces questions about her campaign math. Embattled New York Rep. George Santos refunded more contributions than he took in. And some — but not all — of the Democratic Party’s most vulnerable Senate incumbents have stepped up their fundraising ahead of tough 2024 election fights.

Here’s a look at a few takeaways from new first-quarter campaign filings covering the first three months of 2023:

Indictment provides fundraising jolt

Trump raised about $14.4 million for his main campaign committee in the first quarter of this year — with donations spiking at the end of March as news broke of his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury.

The new filings suggest that the former president’s legal troubles have helped him politically and financially as he makes a third bid for the White House. But the amount only captures the start of what the campaign said was a fundraising surge that continued into the beginning of the second quarter.

Even so, Trump’s first-quarter haul lagged behind the pace he had set in earlier campaigns.

Nikki Haley’s muddled math

Earlier this month, Haley’s campaign publicized what it boasted as a strong haul for her 2024 presidential bid: The former South Carolina governor had raised “more than $11 million in just six weeks,” according to a campaign release.

But official filings with the Federal Election Commission on Saturday night show that the campaign appears to have double-counted money routed among Haley’s fundraising committees, overstating the topline figure.

The three committees connected to Haley raised a total of $8.3 million — still a sizable showing for a first-time presidential candidate but not the figure publicly touted by the former UN ambassador’s campaign.

Fundraising serves as one benchmark of support for a campaign, and candidates are often eager to tout big numbers in advance of their official filings with federal regulators.

In an email to CNN on Sunday, Haley campaign spokesman Ken Farnaso defended the $11 million figure, saying the accounting mirrored how other candidates have previously described their fundraising.

Other candidates have sought to present their campaign filings in the most favorable light. Trump’s campaign, for instance, touted a $9.5 million haul during the first six weeks of his campaign. But, in that window, only about $5 million flowed into the joint fundraising committee that powers his political operation.

Rep. George Santos’ fundraising plummets

Embattled Rep. George Santos’ campaign refunded more contributions than it took in during the first three months of the year, according to a campaign report the New York Republican filed Saturday.

The freshman congressman from Long Island received $5,333 in contributions during the first quarter and refunded more than $8,000 in donations. It’s highly unusual for a sitting member of Congress to report a net loss on a fundraising report.

By contrast, another first-term congressman, Republican Anthony D’Esposito, who represents a neighboring district, reported more than $670,000 in receipts during the first quarter, including more than $300,000 from political action committees and other lawmakers’ campaign committees.

Santos, who has lied about his education, work history and family background, faces a House ethics inquiry, along with local and federal investigations into his finances.

His campaign reported $25,000 in remaining cash as of March 31 and $715,000 in debt — which Santos has described as personal funds he loaned to his successful 2022 effort for New York’s 3rd Congressional District.

(How Santos, who in 2020 reported a $55,000 salary and no assets when he ran unsuccessfully for Congress, amassed the money to fund his campaign two years later remains one of the biggest questions surrounding his political rise.)

Last month, Santos formally filed paperwork for a 2024 reelection bid, but it followed a demand from the FEC that he declare his intentions after he crossed a fundraising threshold that required him to file a statement of candidacy.

Some of his fellow Republicans have urged the scandal-plagued congressman to resign or not seek reelection. Last month, when asked by CNN whether he intended to run again, Santos responded, “Maybe.”

California competition

In the closely watched race to succeed California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Adam Schiff outraised the rest of the Democratic field, bringing in $6.7 million during the first quarter — topping the nearly $4.5 million raised by Rep. Katie Porter and roughly $1.3 million collected by Rep. Barbara Lee.

Schiff also led the field in available cash, ending March with more than $24.6 million stockpiled in his campaign account.

Porter, who transferred nearly $11 million from her House campaign into her Senate account this year, had more than $9.4 million in cash still available on March 31. Lee trailed with a little more than $1.1 million in available cash.

Feinstein, who at 89 is the oldest sitting senator, has announced she will not seek reelection next year — although she is facing calls from some Democrats to retire now after being sidelined with shingles since early March.

Last week, she asked to be temporarily replaced on the Senate Judiciary Committee while she continues her recuperation.

Sinema outraised

In Arizona, the leading Democratic candidate for Senate, Rep. Ruben Gallego, outraised independent incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, bringing in nearly $3.8 million to his opponent’s $2.1 million.

Sinema, who changed her affiliation from Democrat late last year, continues to caucus with her former party. She has not formally declared an intention to seek a second term. But she has the resources to compete in what could be a costly, three-way general election battle for the seat. She ended March with nearly $10 million in available cash to Gallego’s $2.7 million.

Mark Lamb, an Arizona sheriff aligned with Trump, this month became the first major Republican candidate to enter the race, but he won’t file his first fundraising report until July.

Some vulnerable Senate Democrats step up fundraising

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio — who is seeking a fourth term in what will be one of the most closely watched contests of the 2024 cycle — raised more than $3.5 million in the first quarter, up from the roughly $333,000 he collected during the last three months of 2022.

Several Republicans have lined up to challenge Brown, including Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno and former state Sen. Matt Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians Major League Baseball team.

Saturday’s filings show Dolan collecting $3.3 million — most of which he loaned his campaign. Moreno joined the race in April, after the first-quarter fundraising period had ended.

Brown is one of three Democratic senators who are up for reelection next year in states won by Trump in 2020.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester, another Democratic incumbent facing a tough reelection battle in a Republican state, raised $5 million in the first quarter and had $7 million stockpiled as of March 31.

In deep-red West Virginia — a state Trump won by nearly 40 points in 2020 — Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has not yet declared whether he will seek a third full term in 2024. He pulled in just $370,000 in the first quarter but was sitting atop a $9.7 million war chest of available cash as of March 31.

West Virginia Rep. Alex Mooney, the first major Republican to enter the Senate race, collected roughly $500,000 in the first quarter.

CORRECTION: This report has been updated to reflect the year Rep. George Santos was elected to Congress from New York’s 3rd District. It was 2022.

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CNN’s Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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