October 6, 2022

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

Most legal payments are going to the lawyers who represent him in the Mar-a-Lago documents the case.

Legal consulting expenses of $3,886,999 include a $3 million check written to the law firm of Critton, Luttier & Coleman, LLP on August 30. The company is headquartered in Palm Beach, Florida, less than three miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.

Former Florida Solicitor General Chris Kise is not currently listed as one of the firm’s attorneys, but Kise was reportedly paid $3 million up front to represent Trump, according to Politico. Kise was previously a partner at Foley & Lardner, but his ties to the firm were severed after Trump hired him. Kise filed the statute with the state of Florida on August 24th and made his first appearance for Trump on September 1st.

Neither the firm nor Kise responded to CBS News’ requests for comment about the payment. A spokesman for Trump also did not respond to a request for comment.

Save America also paid $207,827 to Habba Madaio & Associates, LLP, the firm of Trump attorney Alina Haba.

Ifrah Law PLLC, Trump’s firm attorney James Trusty, received $242,770. Trump lawyer 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 salary from the PAC.

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

The Atlanta-based law firm of 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 Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastrian 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 former president’s primary fundraising vehicle, the Save America PAC still holds most of Trump’s money on hand. The PAC reported $92.7 million in cash at the end of August and more than $6 million spent.

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

Trump’s PAC, billed as a “flagship PAC” to support other candidates, donated $150,000 in August to Wyoming Values ​​PAC, a group opposing Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who lost the race for re-election from Trump-backed candidate Harriett Hageman.

During the year, the PAC made over $7.2 million in contributions to other federal or state campaigns. By comparison, the PAC also spent $7,555,168.09 on fees for numerous Trump candidate rallies.

If Trump runs for president

Trump’s large war chest has raised questions about what will happen to him if he announces he’s running for president in 2024. Erin Chlopak, senior director of campaign finance at the Campaign Legal Center, said Trump would have to run to form a nominating committee. Money from his leadership PAC cannot be transferred directly to this candidate committee, which would have stricter limits on how much it can raise than a leadership PAC. Save America would remain the leadership PAC.

In practical terms, money from Trump’s leadership PAC could not be used for a campaign if he announced a run for president. So far, he has been able to use Save America PAC funds for rallies he holds for other candidates, and since he himself is not currently a candidate, FEC rules allow it.

Trump can also likely make an argument that the existing leadership PAC funds he has on hand can still be used for his legal expenses, even if he becomes the nominee.

Chlopak said that while leadership PACs are not supposed to be used for “personal expenses” such as personal legal bills, the FEC has not subjected leadership PACs to those rules.

“Routinely, we see leadership PACs being used essentially as slushies for officials’ personal piggy banks. And that, obviously, was a real concern for Trump’s leadership PAC that successfully raised so much money. assets or to pay family members or other expenses, it would not be allowed if it was an official campaign fund,” said Chlopak.

But Chlopak said that if Trump declares a candidacy in 2024 and has to form another candidate committee, the FEC will be stricter about using campaign funds for more personal legal expenses. She said she would consider whether it counts as “personal” on a case-by-case basis.

Whether he can use nominating committee funds to pay expenses such as legal fees related to the Mar-a-Lago document search is up to the FEC’s discretion, Chlopak said.

“The legal standard is whether a personal expense would exist, regardless of the candidate – such as divorce proceedings or a traffic ticket. The answer to whether it applies to [Mar-a-Lago case] is a close call, as it is intertwined with his status as president,” she said.

“It’s an extraordinary amount of money that’s been raised so far, so I think we’re all ready to see what happens,” she added.

Melissa Quinn contributed to this report.

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