Pity the poor Trump donors

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Give Donald Trump credit for one thing: The man knows how to make lemonade.

Each time new charges are leveled against the former president, cash registers ring at the Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee. Most of Trump’s appeals for money end with the message: “It’s because of the commitment and support from real Patriots, like YOU, that we will SAVE AMERICA! Thank you again for your generous support.”

Trump’s two committees raised about $19 million in the first quarter of this year. Then, on March 30, a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict him on charges related to hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels. That news brought in $4 million in the first 24 hours and another $11 million over the next few weeks.

This month, Trump was so eager to begin monetizing his latest legal problems that he beat prosecutors to the punch in announcing federal indictments for alleged crimes involving the handling of classified materials. Trump quickly emailed supporters: “During this dark chapter for our nation, please consider making a contribution of any amount—truly, even just $1—to stand with me and your fellow patriots…”

As soon as charges were formally announced he began hawking T-shirts with the words, “I stand with Trump” and “06.08.23,” which the sales pitch calls “the date of his unjust indictment.” Obtaining a shirt requires a minimum $47 contribution.

As pundits speculate about Trump’s chances in 2024, they should remember that cash speaks louder than answers to pollsters’ questions. Indeed, in Trump’s case it’s more powerful than even votes themselves.

Following his loss to Joe Biden in 2020 Trump raised an incredible $250 million, according to Congressional investigators — $100 million of it in just the first week after Election Day. In its report on the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the select committee noted that Trump amassed most of the money by “bombarding supporters with hundreds of emails, as many as 25 emails per day.”

From the windfall, the committee said $327,000 went to several Trump hotels and the club at Mar-a-Lago. Nearly $100,000 went to the fashion designer Hervé Pierre Braillard, who has created outfits for Melania Trump. Event Strategies, Inc., the company that ran the Jan. 6 rally at the Ellipse, received $5 million.

Trump’s next big money-making, merch-marketing opportunity comes this summer when prosecutors in Georgia are expected to announce indictments related to election tampering. Collections could be huge.

In 2016 Trump famously boasted, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” He neglected to mention how much he’d hope to make by monetizing the trial.

There is, to paraphrase P.T. Barnum, a Trump donor born every minute.

Copyright 2023 Peter Funt distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Peter Funt’s latest book is “Playing POTUS: The Power of America’s Acting Presidents,” about comedians who impersonated presidents.