Trump Spent $66 Million on White House Bid, Short of Promise

  • Trump Gave $10 million infusion in final weeks of campaign
  • Small dollar donors gave $280 million over six months

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump spent $66.1 million of his own money to win the White House, far short of the $100 million that he repeatedly said he would put into his campaign, new filings show.

The billionaire’s own contributions were outweighed by thousands of smaller donations of $200 or less, which added up to about $279.9 million of his campaign war chest, according to filings Thursday with the Federal Election Commission.

Ultimately, Trump won the presidency with far less money than his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, upending conventional wisdom about the role and efficacy of money in politics. Still, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent by both sides, and pleas for money throughout the campaign were constant. Trump repeatedly highlighted his lack of dependence on mega-donors and special interests, and used his financial disadvantage in fundraising pitches to small donors.

"Crooked Hillary has the special interest fatcats bankrolling her campaign," one pitch read. "I’m relying on the support of patriotic Americans like you."

Trump claimed throughout the campaign that he wasn’t beholden to big donors, yet super-PACs supporting him took in $38.4 million in seven-figure contributions through October 19, including $6 million from Linda McMahon, whom Trump recently tapped to lead the Small Business Administration. Among his biggest outside supporters were casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, who gave $10 million to super-PAC Future45 in September.

The bulk of Trump’s own contributions came in the form of about $47.5 million in loans to the campaign during the primaries. He officially forgave the loans in June. Through the general election, he made $2 million contributions at the end of each month, touting them to small dollar donors in e-mailed pleas for contributions by pledging to match donations ranging from $25 to $250 "up to $2 million."

On October 28, Trump gave $10 million to his campaign -- his single biggest donation of the election. Even after winning, Trump’s small dollar pitches continued, including a Black Friday sale of "Make America Great Again" merchandise from his online store.

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