Political leanings: Republican
2020 total spending: n/a
Former President Donald Trump established the Save America political action committee in November 2020, just days after he lost the presidential election to Joe Biden.
Save America is a so-called leadership PAC, which is a committee often formed by members of Congress or other political figures to support other candidates for federal and nonfederal offices. “Leadership PACs are designed for two things: to make money and to make friends, both of which are crucial to ambitious politicians looking to advance their careers,” says OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan research group that tracks money in U.S. elections.
The PACs can also be used to fund expenses, such as travel, that cannot be covered by campaign committees or congressional offices, OpenSecrets says.
Save America says it is about “building on” the accomplishments of the Trump administration while “supporting the brave conservatives who will define the future of the America First Movement,” the Republican Party and the country.
Since forming, it has received $129.6 million in contributions — with over $98 million of that coming in this election cycle. As of May 31, it still had more than $101 million on hand, according to a recent filing with the Federal Election Commission.
Over $50 million of its 2021-2022 haul came via transfers from the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee — a collaboration with the Make America Great Again PAC, another Trump-affiliated group — which raised about $107 million last year. Save America also received over $94 million from the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which is a separate joint fundraising partnership between Save America, Make America Great Again PAC and the Republican National Committee. That joint committee pulled in over $29 million in 2021 to add to the $60 million it had in the bank at the end of 2020.
However, despite its massive reserves, Save America has donated just $210,000 to 42 House and Senate candidates running for office in 2022. The relatively small amount is at least partly attributable to campaign finance rules that limit how much the PAC can give to federal candidates, which is a maximum of $5,000 per candidate.
Those who have received donations include Trump allies in Congress, as well as several primary challengers to Republicans who voted to impeach or convict Trump for his role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol in January 2021. For example, Save America donated to Harriet Hageman, who is challenging Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming; Joe Kent, who is challenging Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington; John Gibbs, who is challenging Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan; and Kelly Tshibaka, who is challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
In addition, Save America has contributed nearly $150,000 to more than two dozen state-level candidates — some in key states where Trump lost to Biden.
In Georgia, it donated $5,000 to David Perdue, a former U.S. senator whom Trump endorsed in the GOP primary in the gubernatorial race. Trump criticized Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who is up for reelection, because he did not support Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 elections results in Trump’s favor. In a statement announcing his endorsement of Perdue for governor, Trump claimed that “Brian Kemp has failed Georgia.” Kemp won the Georgia primary in late May, beating Perdue by 51 percentage points.
Likewise, Save America gave $7,000 to Rep. Jody Hice, another Trump-backed Republican, who unsuccesfully ran for Georgia secretary of state against Republican incumbent Brad Raffensperger. In an infamous January 2021 phone call, Trump urged Raffensperger, the top elections officer in the state, to “find” enough votes for Trump to be declared the winner in Georgia.
The PAC also contributed $1 million to America First Policy Institute, a conservative policy think tank founded in April by former Trump aides, and the Conservative Partnership Institute, a group started in 2017 by former Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, joined the Conservative Partnership Institute as a senior partner in January.
It also donated $1 million to American Leadership Action, a conservative super PAC supporting Dr. Mehmet Oz’s campaign for senator in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, the leadership PAC has spent about $19.1 million on operating expenditures, which include payments for items such as legal consulting, polling, event staging, travel and payroll. Notably, its expenses include over $1.5 million for online advertising on Facebook, where Trump is suspended from posting until at least 2023. That ban does not apply to Trump-affiliated groups, a Facebook spokesperson told Politico.
As for staff, veteran Florida GOP strategist Susie Wiles is Save America’s CEO, and Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Trump, is its communications director.
Eric Branstad and Alexander Latcham, political operatives from Iowa, joined the PAC as senior advisers in August. Branstad worked on Trump’s campaigns, and Latcham was previously employed by the Trump White House as a policy adviser.
Update, April 14: In late March, Save America contributed $500,000 to Get Georgia Right PAC, a conservative super PAC that opposes the reelection of Gov. Brian Kemp. In early April, Get Georgia Right PAC began airing a TV ad that claimed — without proof — that, because of Kemp, “widespread illegal ballot harvesting” prior to the January 2021 Senate runoffs elected Georgia’s two Democratic U.S. senators.
Correction, April 14: Rep. Jody Hice is a U.S. congressman for Georgia, not a representative in the Georgia state House of Representatives.