The “Stop the Steal” Movement Is All About Money
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump’s campaign apparatus announced that Trump has raised more than $207.5 million since Election Day. Most of these donations have come from “small-dollar donors” who responded to the nearly 500 e-mails that the Trump campaign has sent its supporters since the election.
The amount is staggeringly high, even under normal circumstances. By contrast, the Trump campaign’s previous best fundraising month was in September, when it raised $81 million.
Losing campaigns normally do not continue their fundraising efforts in perpetuity. Therefore, the recent influx of e-mails to Trump supporters needed to reflect a sense of urgency, employing capitalized words such as BOGUS and RIGGED. Trump’s Twitter feed has been almost exclusively dedicated to baseless allegations of massive voter fraud for the past month.
There were already indications that Trump’s motivation was primarily financial. The fine print of these fundraising requests reveal that the majority of the donations would be dedicated to Trump’s new “Save America” PAC, with smaller amounts being siphoned off to the RNC’s coffers. Trump’s supporters might have thought they were supporting his election defense fund; in reality, they were victims of his grift.
Save America is a leadership PAC, which can accept contributions of up to $5,000. Trump can use this massive war chest to support other Republican campaigns, thus allowing him to maintain influence over the party even after he leaves office. He can also use these funds to finance events at his properties — which would support his bottom line — or to fund any potential future rallies.
Trump lost. He knows this. Were he to say this out loud, however, the donations would likely stop.
Many of his acolytes know this as well. Lin Wood — a lawyer and prominent Trump supporter — held a “Stop the Steal” rally in Georgia in which he implored the attendants to withhold their votes in the upcoming Georgia run-off election. Senators Loeffler and Perdue, he argued, did not deserve support from Georgia voters because the Senators did not do enough to protect Trump in the election.
The backlash against Lin Wood was swift. Breitbart — a far-right news and commentary website that continues to push articles alleging voter fraud in Georgia — revealed that Wood previously donated to Democratic candidates, thereby alleging that Wood is a Democratic plant. (Wood has also contributed to many Republicans, including Trump.) The National Review — another conservative outlet — referred to Wood as a “lunatic” and a “demagogue.” (To the National Review’s credit, its editors have referred to Trump’s post-election conduct as “disgraceful.”)
Wood’s call to boycott the January run-off election could have serious consequences if enough Republican voters follow his guidance. All eyes are on the Peach State. Control of the Senate depends on the results of that election.
Republicans are in a balancing act. On the one hand, they feel compelled — for whatever reason — to placate an outgoing president as he claims massive voter fraud without evidence. On the other hand, they must denounce Wood, lest the vulnerable Republican incumbents lose the January run-off election and the Senate majority flips to the Democrats.
As for Wood, he may be grifting as well. Wood is chairman and CEO of the #FightBack Foundation, which is registered as a 501(c)(4) organization. His Twitter feed frequently uses the hashtag #FightBack and links to the organization’s fundraising page. The #FightBack Foundation’s specific mandate is both vague and overtly conservative; for example, its website details its mission to “defeat the evil forces of the left.” The foundation previously raised money for Kyle Rittenhouse’s bail and legal expenses, although it unclear how much of the raised funds were earmarked specifically for Rittenhouse.
By positioning himself as Trump’s main defender, Wood may be able to solicit money from Trump’s supporters. This is the fundraising playbook that Trump wrote.
If Wood is grifting, he certainly learned it from the best.