WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donald Trump’s presidential campaign on Saturday reported raising $14.5 million during the first three months of this year, with contributions accelerating sharply after he announced he was about to be criminally indicted.
The disclosure to the Federal Election Commission does not cover all of the former president’s political fundraising or disclose full details for online donors.
But the filing shows at least $2.7 million raised from individual donors in the two weeks after March 18, when he announced that a Manhattan grand jury was about to charge him after an investigation into hush money Trump allegedly paid to a mistress ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
During the prior two weeks, the disclosure shows the campaign bringing in just over $1 million from individual donors.
Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, has denied having a sexual encounter with the woman at the center of the investigation and calls the probe a witch hunt by his political enemies. His indictment on March 30 made him the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges.
That has energized his supporters and his campaign finances.
The campaign reported spending $3.5 million through March, with close to half going to his campaign payroll and travel expenses. At least $7,000 was spent at golf clubs and resorts that are owned by Trump in south Florida.
Eight in 10 Republicans see the case against Trump as politically motivated, and his lead over other Republican presidential hopefuls has grown since his indictment, according a Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll found this month.
Still, Trump has not sewn up the money race for the Republican nomination, and some experts say his legal woes, which include other potentially more serious investigations, could push Republicans tired of the drama around him to look for another presidential candidate.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to announce a presidential bid soon, reported having about $85 million in a political fundraising account at the end of March.
To counter the perceived threat from DeSantis, the Make America Great Again Inc Super PAC, which has received at least $60 million in funding from one of Trump’s political committees, on Saturday reported to regulators it plans to spend $1.5 million on TV ads opposing DeSantis.
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by William Mallard)