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No Shame: Donald Trump is Fundraising on His Legal Problems

Once again, a criminal indictment of former President Donald Trump has led to a fundraising haul in the millions. But the Koch Network has launched an ad campaign against the former president. 

Donald Trump Makes Money on Legal Issues 

They say crime pays. And when you’re former President Donald Trump and raising money for your presidential run, getting accused of a crime pays even more. 

According to Politico, Trump raised more than $2 million at a fundraiser at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., the same day that he appeared in court in Miami to answer charges in his federal indictment. The event was held on the eve of the former president’s 77th birthday. 

The fundraiser, which met its goal of raising $2 million, “demonstrates how Trump has still been able to rely on deep-pocketed supporters to fill his campaign coffers even amid his legal troubles,” Politico said. Attendees at the event paid at least $1,000 to attend. 

CNBC reported on what went on at the Bedminster event. The food offerings included “crab cakes and burgers,” while some who donated or raised at least $100,000 were treated to a “candlelight dinner” with the former president. 

 Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), a frequent Trump backer, attended the event, even though it meant missing a vote back in Washington that led to the confirmation of Jared Bernstein, the president’s pick to chair the Council of Economic Advisers. 

“Voters, donors, and activists are all energized to send President Trump back to the White House,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung told CNBC. That report noted that the former president’s supporters have “doubled down” on their backing, even after the indictment. 

“My message to President Trump this evening at Bedminster ‘Damn the Torpedoes, Full speed ahead!,” real estate executive Stan Pate said on social media this week, per CNBC. 

Kochs vs. Trump 

The Koch Network, through their Americans for Prosperity Action, meanwhile, has launched ads arguing against Trump’s return to the presidency, claiming that the former president “can’t win.” 

“What’s Biden’s secret weapon? Donald Trump as the GOP nominee. Biden wins the White House and gets the House and Senate, too,” one of the ads says. 

However, one major never-Trump organ ripped the Koch ads as ineffective. 

Tim Miller, a longtime Republican strategist who is a noted anti-Trumper, wrote for The Bulwark this week that the Koch ads are “atrocious.” 

“There are several blindingly obvious problems with these wartime spots that render them completely ineffective and possibly even counterproductive,” Miller says, ripping the style and substance of them. 

“These types of ads are well worn because they work in certain types of races—particularly for lower offices where voters are learning about the candidates,” Miller writes. “But that’s not the kind of campaign we’re in! When you are dealing with the second most famous person of the last century (congrats, Hitler!) people tune out boilerplate garbage like this. And for Trump voters who do register it, being exposed to an ad that smells like the Old Guard GOP attacking their avatar only makes them want to come to Trump’s defense.”

Miller added that calling Trump unelectable was already tried, by strategists that included Miller himself, in the 2016 primary race, and Republican primary voters didn’t buy it then, either. It’s especially unlikely to work in an environment in which, as Miller says, 70 percent of GOP voters believe (erroneously) that Trump won the 2020 election. 

The ex-strategist added that the audience the Kochs are aiming the message at isn’t large enough to beat Trump. 

“There is not a plurality of GOP primary voters who are susceptible to arguments from authority about electability,” he writes. “The people who are open to that message make up what should be DeSantis’s (or another challenger’s) base. It doesn’t take a mathlete to see that if only 30 percent of the electorate is open to your message that Trump is a loser, there is a limit on your PAC’s aspirations.”

Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

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Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.