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Trump Will Not Use Donations to Repay $50 Million in Campaign Loans

  • Reuters

The motorcade of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stands outside the Le Cirque restaurant during a fundraising event in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., June 21, 2016.

The motorcade of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stands outside the Le Cirque restaurant during a fundraising event in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., June 21, 2016.

Republican Donald Trump has forgiven nearly $50 million in loans he made to fund his presidential bid, he said on Thursday, signaling to donors that future contributions will be used to fight Democrat Hillary Clinton and not to repay himself.

The announcement that Trump will not seek repayment of the loans via contributions came amid concerns from his backers that he does not have enough money to fund his campaign for the November 8 general election.

"I have absolutely no intention of paying myself back for the nearly $50 million dollars I have loaned to the campaign," the presumptive Republican nominee said in a statement.

The New York developer has suggested he could use more of his personal wealth to help him win the White House.

"[Trump] has also said he will contribute significantly more money," Steve Mnuchin, the top fundraiser for Trump's campaign, said in an interview on CNBC earlier on Thursday. Mnuchin was the first to say that Trump would forgive the loans. The fundraiser also told CNBC that Trump has seen a strong
uptick in fundraising in the last week.

Mnuchin said Trump raised about $10 million in conjunction with the Republican Party at fundraising events this week. Trump also raised another $6 million through online donations, Mnuchin said, following the wealthy New York businessman's first attempt to appeal to supporters to contribute to his campaign.

"We've really ramped up the effort this month," Mnuchin said.

Supporters began worrying on Monday after Trump's campaign revealed weak fundraising totals. He began June with only $1.3 million in the bank, far behind Clinton, who had a $42 million war chest to begin the month.

Mnuchin said Trump's numbers at the beginning of June were "irrelevant" because his fundraising efforts for the general election only started recently.

Candidates need a hefty bank account to fund a presidential bid, including hundreds of millions of dollars for television advertising and staff. Trump has benefited from extensive media coverage but could be buried in attack ads if he lacks the funds to push his own message.

Joint fundraising account

Trump funded his campaign for the Republican nomination largely through his own personal wealth, putting money into his campaign in the form of loans. By leaving them as loans, he would be entitled to seek repayment from his campaign.

But by converting the loans into contributions, Trump is telling his supporters that he will not seek repayment via contributions. There are no legal limits on how much a candidate can contribute to their own campaign, in contrast to caps on how much an individual, company or group can give.

Trump only began fundraising in earnest at the end of May. His campaign has said that donations have been "pouring in" since he started seeking contributions.

On Tuesday, Trump attended a dinner fundraiser in Manhattan, where the attendees included billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn, Anthony Scaramucci of SkyBridge Capital and hedge fund manager John Paulson. Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets football team, hosted a breakfast fundraiser for Trump at a restaurant in the city.

Trump's campaign was working to quickly raise large sums via a joint fundraising agreement with the Republican National Committee and several state Republican parties.

A presidential candidate can only accept up to $5,400 from an individual donor. The joint fundraising agreement allows Trump to accept checks as high as $450,000. The donations are then divided up between the campaign and the state funds.

That money is then used to hire staff and contact voters in important battleground states, efforts intended to help elect Trump and other Republicans running for office. Such states are hotly contested because their populations can swing either to Republicans or Democrats and play a decisive role in White House contests.