Trump campaign has biggest spending month yet, but Clinton dominates financially

Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump by a wide margin in July, funding a costly television blitz and deploying hundreds of staffers across the country – traditional campaign investments that her Republican presidential rival has largely forgone.

The Democratic White House contender spent nearly $49 million last month through her campaign committee and a joint fundraising committee that raises money for Hillary for America, according to new finance reports filed Saturday night. Almost $26 million of her monthly expenses went to produce and air a blizzard of television and online commercials – part of what has been a $120 million ad bombardment by her campaign. Clinton’s operation also spent nearly $5 million to pay 705 staffers in July and $2 million on travel.

Trump, meanwhile, had his biggest spending month yet, doubling the amounts he spent in May and June. But the $18.4 million his campaign shelled out in July was still a fraction of Clinton’s arsenal. Nearly half of the money, $8.4 million, went to one company: Giles-Parscale, a web-design firm whose president, Brad Parscale, serves as the Trump campaign’s digital director.

The San Antonio-based company, which got its foothold designing websites for the Trump Organization in 2011, has emerged as one of his campaign’s biggest vendors, taking in $12.5 million so far. In the last few months, Giles-Parscale’s portfolio has grown as it has spearheaded Trump’s belated but aggressive online fundraising effort.

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Other large sums spent by the Trump campaign in July went to travel ($3.2 million) and merchandise ($1.8 million). The campaign doled out $773,000 to reimburse various Trump-owned companies for expenses. In all, nearly $7.7 million has been paid out to Trump companies or Trump family members to cover campaign expenditures, filings show.

While Trump’s payroll remained a fraction of Clinton’s last month, he continued to pay one former staffer: ousted campaign manager Corey Lewandowski received his regular $20,000 monthly fee on July 6 – two weeks after he was jettisoned and had been hired by CNN as a political commentator. Trump has continued to call on Lewandowski for advice since his departure, a dynamic that contributed to friction with campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who resigned last week.

Altogether, since the beginning of the 2016 campaign, Trump’s campaign has spent $89.5 million on his bid, while Clinton’s operation has invested almost $319 million.

The sharp imbalance is driven in part by the real estate tycoon’s belief that he does not need to pay for the usual campaign tools, relying instead on his social media reach and coverage of his raucous rallies. His campaign just launched its first general election TV ad last week, saying it planned to spend $4.8 million on a 10-day ad buy in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.

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The billionaire also trails his Democratic rival when it comes to raising money. July was his best month yet: the Trump campaign and two joint fundraising committees it has with the RNC together pulled in $82 million, officials announced earlier this month. That came close to the $90 million that Clinton raised in conjunction with the Democratic party in July.

However, Trump does not appear to be harvesting as much cash from those joint fundraising efforts as Clinton does. His campaign said that that it raised $64 million with the RNC through online donations and direct mail in July, ostensibly mostly small contributions that would be directed to his committee, rather than the party. But Trump’s campaign reported just $36 million in receipts last month. That included $14.5 million transferred from the joint fundraising committees and a $2 million donation from Trump himself, who has now given a total of $52 million to finance his White House bid.

It is unclear why more money was not transferred from the joint fundraising committees, which are not scheduled to file their next finance reports until Oct. 15. The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for clarification.

Meanwhile, Clinton raised $62.3 million for her campaign in July, including more than $30 million raised through two joint fundraising committees.

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After accepting their parties’ nominations at their July conventions, the two candidates headed into the final three-month stretch of the campaign in starkly different financial positions.

Clinton’s campaign had more than $58 million in the bank, while Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC flanking her bid, boasted nearly $39 million on hand.

Trump’s committee had more than $38 million in reserves, while two of his biggest super PACs reported less than $4 million between them as August began.

The Democratic National Committee also had a blockbuster month, thanks to big-dollar donations that Clinton has helped raise for the party. The DNC pulled in $32 million, compared to the Republican National Committee’s $24 million’s July haul. But the RNC’s strong fundraising lead gave it a larger cash edge heading into August, with $34.5 million in the bank and $7.7 million in debt compared to the DNC’s $10.1 million cash on hand and $4.5 million in debt.