Donald Trump’s July FEC report was released over the weekend, with his campaign reporting it raised $36,682,127— its best month so far.
But not so fast.
Of that total, $2,052,825 came from Trump himself and $14,507,531 was a transfer from his joint fundraising committee with the RNC. So in total Trump’s campaign raised $19.6 million from individual donors. And that money was costly.
Of the campaign’s $18.4 million in disbursements last month, more than $11.2 million—or about 61 percent—went to expenditures that can be tied to fundraising. This includes spending on online advertising, which is mostly used for donor acquisition, merchandise that the campaign sells in its online stores in exchange for contributions, merchant processing fees charged for all credit card transactions, and expenditures explicitly labeled as fundraising.
With this mind, the Trump campaign likely spent nearly 57 percent of its contributions from individuals not named Trump attempting to raise more money. Even if you look at these numbers in the most positive light for the campaign, it would have spent 50 percent of its expenditures on fundraising. This is a figure that would strike fear in the heart of any normal campaign.
Think about it this way: In July, the campaign spent the equivalent of more than 70 percent of the individual contributions it collected on the three categories of hotels, airfare and fundraising expenditures. That’s before paying a single staff member, renting a room for a rally or buying a single TV ad.
Donor acquisition is expensive and difficult, with the first gift often being the costliest one for campaigns and organizations to reel in. But at this point in the cycle, a general election campaign should at worst be reaping the rewards of this initial work. Adding in the enormous quantity of free media driving donors to Trump’s website, and Hillary Clinton’s for that matter, the campaign should not be spending this much on fundraising.
At best, it suggests poor planning and a scattershot campaign. At worst, it suggests consultants are raking in huge profits on the backs of donors while a candidate looks the other way.
Speaking to a Pennsylvania anti-abortion group in April, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver compared marriage equality foes to anti-Nazi dissidents, Martin Luther King Jr. and various biblical figures, declaring that it was time to decide whether to “obey God” or “obey man” on the issue. Those who think that the Supreme Court’s decision striking down marriage equality bans is “the law of the land,” he said, have been “brainwashed.”
“We are coming to a place, ladies and gentlemen, where we have to make a decision,” said Staver, who represented Kentucky clerk Kim Davis in her war against the Supreme Court’s marriage quality ruling. “Where we have to make a decision like Dietrich Bonhoeffer made a decision, like Martin Niemoller made a decision. We are coming to the position where we are in the same place that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had to make a decision, where the founders of this country had to make a decision that we will either obey God or we will obey man. And when those two directly, inherently, irrevocably collide with one another. We are in a position like Daniel in the lions’ den, like the three Hebrews that would not bow down, like Esther, who put her life on the line and engaged in civil resistance against the most powerful king on the planet. We are coming to that moment in time.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell, he said, was “a lawless opinion.”
“When are we going to stop playing charades and pretend that whatever those five people say, whoever they might be, whatever they say, no matter how devoid of the Constitution it may be, that it becomes the law of the land?” he asked. “It doesn’t! If that’s your belief system, if you have gotten so brainwashed to think that whatever those five people in Washington, D.C., say, we now have to march to it like toy soldiers because if they say so, irrespective of the fact that they have no authority under the Constitution to do it, then you would support Dred Scott, you would support Buck v. Bell, because those decisions came down from the United States Supreme Court as well.”
In the case of Dred Scott, he reminded the audience, “we had to fight a civil war to overturn that nonsense.”
In the same speech, Staver warned that God would judge America because legal abortion means “we are doing the same thing” as ISIS.
Rep. Steve King, Republican of Iowa, objected last week to the Obama administration’s most recent transfer of 15 detainees who had been held in the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, telling a local news station that Guantanamo is “a very humane establishment” that is in what “could be a resort area.”
“They have air conditioned rooms in a Caribbean island,” he said of the prisoners, most of whom have been held for years without facing charges, “I mean that would make a terrific resort area there, they set the temperature at 75 degrees because that’s their cultural temperature, they get the choice of three different choices of a meal three times a day, so they’re looking at nine halal means that they get to pick from. I mean, everything is handled very, very humanely down there.”
When Siouxland News asked King what he would do to solve the problem of Guantanamo, King repeated his praises of the facility’s amenities and said that it “would not be being inhumane” to keep prisoners there for life without trial.
“If they killed Americans and in violation of international law, then under international law, we’re treating them better than the most severe punishment that we could deliver to them,” he said. “If you’re in violation of international law, then the penalty for that is execution. So if we keep them in a Caribbean resort area—it could be a resort area, but if we keep them in a Caribbean resort climate with 75 degrees and halal meals and everything handled respectfully, as it absolutely is now, and they stayed there for life, that would not be being inhumane, that would be being human towards the lives of the people they would kill if we turned them loose.“
Anti-equality organizations are enthusiastically promoting a new study on sexual orientation and gender, hoping it will be new culture war ammunition.
The study by Dr. Lawrence Mayer and Dr. Paul McHugh appears in “The New Atlantis,” a journal co-published by the right-wing Ethics and Public Policy Center and the Center for the Study of Technology and Science, which shares an address with EPPC. The New Atlantis is not a peer-reviewed journal, and has critiqued peer review, widely considered the gold standard in scientific publishing.
Among the authors’ contentions are that the belief that sexual orientation and gender identity are innate or fixed properties is “not supported by scientific evidence.” The study also says that the stress of social stigma is not a sufficient explanation for higher rates of mental health and substance abuse problems in LGBT communities.
In his preface, co-author Mayer dedicates his work to the LGBT community, “which bears a disproportionate rate of mental health problems compared the population as a whole,” and to “scholars doing impartial research on topics of public controversy.” He declares himself a supporter of equality and opponent of anti-LGBT discrimination.
Mayer says that McHugh initially approached him to review a monograph he had written and the project expanded from there. The prominent but controversial McHugh is a Catholic in his mid-80s who has described himself as “religiously orthodox, politically liberal, and culturally conservative – a believer in marriage and the Marines, a supporter of institutions and family values.” The new study builds on a body of work that dismisses the notion of transgender identity. TransAdvocate and others challenged McHugh’s “selective reading of transgender medical literature” two years ago, and ThinkProgress critiqued his work in 2015.
Brian Brown at the National Organization for Marriage can hardly contain his excitement about the new study, writing in a letter to supporters, “The importance of this new study cannot be overstated.” He urges people to “help spread the word” to “make sure that this groundbreaking research gains the wide hearing it deserves despite what will surely be a concerted effort by the media to bury its findings.”
Also participating in the roll-out is the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, one of the most prominent opponents of marriage equality. Anderson says the study’s findings undermine the Obama administration’s requirement that schools accommodate transgender children as well as the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.
Anderson has written a book and spoken widely about how the anti-equality movement should reject and resist the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. Anderson has urged the anti-equality movement to conduct new research (citing the widely discredited Mark Regnerus study on “family structures”) to create “new insights” that future Supreme Court justices could use as justification for overturning Obergefell.
In a speech to a Pennsylvania anti-abortion group earlier this year, Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver compared legal abortion in the U.S. to the atrocities of ISIS, declaring that “God cannot continue to allow this country to exist” if legal abortion continues.
Staver, speaking at an April event hosted by the New Castle, Pennsylvania, chapter of People Concerned for the Unborn Child, spoke of a display at his group’s recent Awakening conference detailing some of the atrocities committed by ISIS, especially against Christians.
“But you know, as much as we cry at that kind of brutality, and certainly should,” he said, “we are doing the same thing under the rubric of ‘choice,’ under the idea that this is the rule of law and the people up there in Washington, D.C., seven in '73 and five in '92, said ‘the Constitution says so.’ Because we’re decapitating children, we’re breaking off their arms and legs, we’re brutalizing them in the same way that these larger people are being brutalized by ISIS.”
“Now, we want to go in and bomb those countries, right?” he asked. “We want to go in and take ‘em out to stop that brutality. In fact, there’s even people there that have given videos, ‘Please, bomb us so that we don’t have to continue’—these are people who are under the control of ISIS, they’re asking for us to bomb them to get them out of their misery, to kill everyone, to stop the carnage. But that’s happening in this country, and we drive by those places where our children are being brutalized in the same way.”
God, he said, won’t “overlook this kind of sin” and “will ultimately reap judgment on this country if we do not individually, as a church, and corporately repent of our sin and turn from our wicked ways.”
“God cannot continue to allow this country to exist under those kinds of circumstances,” he added. “He cannot bless America under those kinds of circumstances. I want God’s blessing on this country, but he cannot bless this country when we’re going down this path of destruction of the people who are created in his very image.”
Last week, televangelist Jim Bakker declared that legal abortion is a sign that we are in the Last Days, expressing shock that anyone would favor abortion rights.
“People are literally, it’s a big thing in the news right now, they’re having nervous breakdowns over the political campaign,” he said, “because there’s people who feel so strongly on both sides. Isn’t it amazing, people are so strong that they want to kill babies, that they’re fighting for the right to kill babies?”
He added: “If an atomic bomb had dropped on America, it wouldn’t do any more damage than what abortion has done.”
On the latest "Truths That Transform" episode from D. James Kennedy Ministries, host Frank Wright interviewed anti-LGBT activist Michael Brown about the controversy over allowing transgender individuals to use the facilities that match the gender with which they identify.
Brown had a very simple solution to the controversy: Transgender people should just "dress in accordance with [their] biological gender" when they are out in public in case they might have to use a restroom.
Wright said that it is entirely reasonable to require transgender people to use facilities that match the gender they were assigned at birth rather than the one with which they currently identify and Brown completely agreed.
"You cannot turn society upside down to help those who struggle, even if it is a genuine handicap," Brown stated. "For example, if people can only drive 20 miles an hour, that's the fastest they're capable of driving, they have to stay off the highway. It's an inconvenience but it hurts everybody else and it causes traffic jams and potential accidents. So if a man says, 'Well, I dress like a woman, what do I do when I need to use the bathroom somewhere?,' that's a real difficulty, that's a real problem but it's not one that you can now put on society as a whole."
"These are ultimately choices people make," he said, "and if it's a matter of going to the bathroom; if you're in public and you're going to have a deal with a bathroom, if you have to dress in accordance with your biological gender, that's the sacrifice you'll have to make, you can't put the sacrifice on everyone else."
Michele Bachmann, who earlier this summer joined Donald Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board, said in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio last week that she is now advising Trump on foreign affairs:
Before the event, former Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said she has been advising Trump on foreign policy and issues of concern to Christian conservatives. She said Trump is right to call for more restrictive immigration policies.
“He also recognizes there is a threat around the world, not just here in Minnesota, of radical Islam,” she said. “I wish our President Obama also understood the threat of radical Islam and took it seriously.”
As we’ve noted, Bachmann believes the September 11 attacks represented God’s judgment on America; President Obama and gay rights advocates are bringing about the End Times; homosexuality is “personal enslavement” and “part of Satan”; gay people want to change laws “so that adults will be able to freely prey on little children sexually”; and Obamacare death panels will literally kill people any day now.
Her foreign policy ideas are driven by her belief that the Last Days have arrived.
While Trump frequently rails against “globalism,” the former Minnesota congresswoman goes one step further in warning that a one-world government is emerging that will usher in the reign of the Antichrist , wondering if Obama fits the description.
Obama, she says, has brought upon the End Times by supposedly promoting policies that are “pro-the goals of Islamic jihad,” aiding ISIS, “sending arms to terrorists” and lifting “up the agenda of radical Islam.”
While Trump isn’t exactly one to talk about eschatology, it is no wonder that the candidate who thinks Obama founded ISIS and secretly supports terrorism is turning to Bachmann for foreign policy advice.
Here’s why Donald Trump is going out of his way to build bridges to Religious Right leaders: voter turnout. While Trump has done little to build a field operation to help get out the vote, he has courted conservative activists who, like Ted Cruz, believe that there are millions of conservative evangelicals who have not voted in the past, and that the candidate who can energize them will become president. Many strategists consider this to be a dubious claim, but Trump clearly feels a need to maximize turnout from this crucial part of the GOP base.
David Lane, the Christian-nationalist political operative who sponsored the event Trump and Marco Rubio attended recently in Florida, has reportedly raised nearly $10 million to conduct a church-based voter registration and GOTV drive in six target states. Lane’s organization, the American Renewal Project, will target Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa. Lane has always been secretive about his donors, but as we have reported, the foundations of Texas fracking billionaires Dan and Ferris Wilks have been major donors to his operations.
Strategists, including GOP operatives Wayne Hamilton and Dave Carney, will meet in Dallas this week to map out the strategy. Like most news about Lane’s operations, the story was first reported by Lane’s mouthpiece, David Brody at the Christian Broadcasting Network. Brody reports that in the weeks ahead, Trump and Mike Pence will be invited to speak to at least half a dozen similar "Pastors and Pews" events, which are designed to energize politically active conservative evangelical pastors.
We have reported extensively on Lane’s political operations, his ties to the Republican Party and his extreme worldview, including his intensely anti-gay positions and his belief that politics is a form of spiritual warfare designed to bring the United States back to what he thinks is its mission and covenant with God to advance the Christian faith. He’s not shy about expressing that view, as Brody reports:
The central theme behind this effort is a need for spiritual revival in America. Lane recognizes that a president, whether they are republican or democrat isn’t going to save America. This is spiritual warfare playing out in an arena where somebody’s values are going to rule the day. Lane says it’s time for pastors to step up and lead from the pulpit. “Christians founded America, not secularists, agnostics, atheists or multicultural proponents like the current president,” Lane tells The Brody File. “Evangelical and Pro-Life Catholic Christians have to engage in 2016 if America is to be saved.”
Lane, of course, is not running the only pro-Trump Religious Right GOTV effort. In a Monday morning email, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition said it has started its 2016 ground campaign and is recruiting volunteers to knock on doors, distribute voter guides and make GOTV phone calls to generate “the largest conservative vote in American history.” The email starts with a recent quote from Jerry Falwell Jr. saying Donald Trump is a leader like Winston Churchill who can save America.
Today, radical right-wing activist Janet Porter released a video explaining why she will be voting for Donald Trump and warning Christians that they will be held accountable by God if the refuse to do likewise.
Praising Trump for his promises to appoint anti-choice judges, allow churches to directly support candidates without losing their tax-exempt status and make sure that everyone in America says "Merry Christmas," Porter declared that the basic choice in this election is between "life or death for millions."
"God actually told us not to sit [out the election] when He gave us His voter guide in Deuteronomy," she said. "He said, 'Choose life that you and your descendants may live.' You might feel good about yourself sitting out this election, but I can assure you unborn babies won't. The main choice set before us is life or death for millions."
Porter then cited anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer's famous "not to speak is to speak" quote, which she conveniently updated by adding "not to vote it to vote."
Porter will be voting for Trump, she concluded, "because the alternative is unthinkable."
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