Recounts, debt, and litigation: Here's why Donald Trump keeps asking for your money even while votes are still being counted

  • President Trump's campaign sent supporters several solicitations Tuesday imploring them to send more money — even though polls had closed.
  • There's a reason for the incessant pleadings: The president's campaign burned through cash in October, meaning it'll likely need an infusion of money if the 2020 election isn't decided quickly.
  • Trump's campaign could also face costly legal fights in the months to come if it needs to play defense from any investigations into its spending practices.
  • Democratic nominee Joe Biden also asked for money on Tuesday, though his campaign made it to Election Day with more stable finances.
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The Trump text message — one of several Tuesday — is equal parts urgent and nonsensical.

"We're handing Pres Trump the FINAL 2020 Election Day Donor List in 1 HOUR. Make sure your name is at the TOP. Donate NOW & receive a 1000%-MATCH," President Donald Trump's campaign wrote supporters around 4 p.m.

Trump on Tuesday almost certainly didn't scan names of strangers. And these fundraising matching gimmicks are nonsense — nobody is really matching your money, and even if someone was, they'd almost assuredly run afoul of federal campaign contribution limits of $2,800 per candidate, per election. 

But so long as there's still time left in Election 2020, there's still political money for Trump's campaign to make by almost any means possible.

Why? Because Trump may desperately need it in the days, weeks, and even months to come.

"While campaigning is usually finished by Election Day, the costs associated with a campaign may not be," said Nick Penniman, founder and CEO of Issue One, a bipartisan political reform organization.

Among the reasons Trump might need more money:

  • Disputed votes. While the Republican Party had a stout cash stash for the specific purposes of vote recounts and legal fights, the Trump campaign itself may need to pitch in. It will also have to continue to pay staff and fund other campaign costs if the election extends into overtime.
  • Debt. During October, the Trump campaign burned through much of its once-sizable cash reserve. It's possible that Team Trump's books could begin to bleed red, in which case it'll need a continued infusion of funds — unless Trump himself starts footing his campaign's bills. In a bid for a second term, Trump has so far resisted spending his own cash on his reelection.
  • Legal troubles. The Trump campaign faces significant scrutiny over its financial practices, and former Department of Justice and Federal Election Commission officials tell Insider that federal investigators may already be discreetly investigating the Trump campaign. If so, the Trump campaign will need money to fight. It will also need money to pay any civil fines it might get hit with, noted Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform for the Campaign Legal Center, which in July filed a federal campaign finance complaint against the Trump campaign. 

By Tuesday evening, Trump's solicitation grew increasingly shrill.

"We're $12K SHORT! We need you, friend. Last chance to stand with me. Just 3 HOURS LEFT. Donate NOW & it will be 6X-MATCHED," another text message read.

"This is our chance to remind the Radical Left that THIS IS YOUR COUNTRY, NOT THEIRS. Don't let me down … Contribute ANY AMOUNT IMMEDIATELY to stand with me and to go down in history as a 2020 Election Day Donor," a 9 p.m. hour Trump campaign email shouted.

During the 10 p.m. hour, Vice President Mike Pence emailed: "President Trump is calling on YOU to step up and make sure we have the resources to WIN BIG."

After 11 p.m., Trump emailed that "Democrats cannot stand that MILLIONS of Americans from all over the Nation are voting for yours truly, all the while REJECTING their SOCIALIST candidate … Contribute $5 IMMEDIATELY to FIGHT BACK and DEFEND your President from the Radical Left."

Twenty minutes later, Trump texted: "This is the most important Election in American history. Our Country's future is in YOUR hands. Claim FINAL 1000%-MATCH. We must defeat the Radical Left, Fake News, DC Swamp & Deep State. I'm choosing YOU, to claim the FINAL 1000%-MATCH. Donate"

The solicitations continued into Wednesday morning. "THE LEFT WILL TRY TO STEAL THE ELECTION! … CONTRIBUTE NOW!" shouted an email send during the 5 a.m. hour.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden campaigns in Atlanta.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Biden asking for dough, too

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who entered the election homestretch with decidedly more stable finances, also continued to pepper supporters with fundraising solicitations Tuesday.

"We need to raise another $2.5 million before the polls close tonight. Please — can you rush $25 now?" the Biden campaign emailed during the 6 p.m. hour. "Will you pitch in one last time to fuel this fight through to the very end?" 

Another Biden email asserted: "Your first $25 right now will make sure we hit that goal, and we'll use it immediately to boost Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to a decisive victory tonight. Don't wake up tomorrow with any regrets."

Don't be surprised if congressional candidates follow the presidential candidates' leads and also continue squeezing supporters for money this week.

"There's always another race, and given our political environment, if you're in the House, you're always running for reelection," noted Cooper Teboe, a Democratic Party fundraiser.

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