WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, eschewing traditional fundraising, collected $3.9 million in three months thanks to a flurry of low-dollar contributions.
Documents filed Thursday with federal regulators show the billionaire businessman and entertainer on par with some of his rivals who had been aggressively raising money from July 1 to the end of September.
Just $100,779 of Trump’s contributions came from his own pocket, a drastic shift from how he’d been paying for his campaign in its early months.
Trump often boasts that he’s self-funding his campaign and brags about turning down multimillion-dollar contributions. Despite his initial pledge to self-finance his campaign, he added a donation page to his website over the summer that seeks contributions up to the maximum $2,700 and encouraged people to purchase campaign merchandise online.
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He has attracted contributions from across the country that range from several dollars to several thousand. More than 70 percent of Trump’s campaign contributions came from people chipping in $200 or less — a small-donor contribution rate second only to that of socialist sensation Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination.
In all, Trump’s campaign reported receiving 73,942 unsolicited donations over the three-month period, with an average contribution of just $50.46.
That’s helped Trump limit the amount he has had to invest personally in the campaign to $1,909,576 since its launch.
“I thought I’d have spent about $20, $25 million up until this point. You know what I’ve spent? Like nothing,” he told a crowd in Virginia Wednesday night, crediting his free media coverage for negating the need for paid ads.
The Trump campaign spent more than $4 million in the quarter on expenses including staff salaries, hotel stays, merchandise and rental cars.
The largest expense — $723,000— went to TAG Air, a Trump-owned company that controls his private jet. He spent hundreds of thousands more on payments to various Trump entities including Trump restaurants, Trump offices and Trump hotels.
Another major expense came from reimbursing Ernie Boch, a billionaire Massachusetts car dealer, for a lavish party featuring the candidate. Boch’s refunds — $87,000 for catering and $84,000 simply described as a contribution — were cut a month apart.
Trump’s campaign also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars cumulatively on political strategy firms in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and New York.
In a statement Thursday announcing the totals, Trump boasted about his spending habits.
“While our original budget was substantially higher than the amount spent, good business practices and even better ideas and policy have made it unnecessary to have spent a larger sum,” he said. “To be No. 1 in every poll, both state and national, and to have spent the least amount of dollars of any serious candidate is a testament to what I can do for America. This is what our country’s leaders should do for the United States — spend money wisely and win!”