For months, there have been reports that Republicans opposed to Donald Trump are working to find a way to replace the presumptive nominee at the Republican National Convention, which will be held in Cleveland starting on July 18. With Monday night’s disastrous campaign finance filing from the Trump campaign, it seems that the anti-Trump forces may have an opening.
First off, Trump hasn’t raised nearly enough money to run an effective presidential campaign, especially against a well-funded Democratic Party veteran like Hillary Clinton. The Trump campaign raised only $3 million in May, compared with $26 million for Clinton. Heading into June, Trump had just $1.29 million in cash on hand, reports NBC News. Clinton had $42 million.
Anti-Trump Republicans could argue for an amendment to the GOP’s nomination rules and replace Trump, claiming that his poor fundraising and shoddily run campaign would be bad for the party. That would be a difficult thing to do — they’d first have to get enough anti-Trump delegates on the rules committee to force the change, and then actually convince delegates to pledge their support to another candidate, a move that is technically illegal in some states. But the recently filed finance report gives anti-Trump delegates a more concrete reason to make such a push than just saying they don’t like him.
But lurking beneath the surface of these awful numbers is the specter of something even worse —the possibility of some level of impropriety with campaign funds.
Around 20% of Trump’s campaign spending has gone to businesses Trump himself owns, reports MarketWatch. That includes more than $130,000 spent at Trump restaurants and nearly $5,000 spent at his son Eric’s wine company. MarketWatch also notes that it seems that Trump himself is being paid a salary from the campaign, something candidates generally don’t do.
And then there’s the strange tale of Draper Sterling, a business the Trump campaign paid $35,000 for “web advertising.” Draper Sterling is strangely similar to Sterling Cooper Draper Price, the fictional advertising agency from AMC’s acclaimed television drama “Mad Men.” The address given for Draper Sterling is a house in suburban New Hampshire, which Mediaite notes is just a short drive from the home of Corey Lewandowski, the controversial former Trump campaign manager who was fired from the campaign on Monday. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this article.
Now, that could be a coincidence, but conservative strategist Matt Mackowiak noted on Twitter on Monday that the campaign is taking a closer look at what Lewandowski spent while he was with the campaign.
One thing is clear — the Trump campaign is even more disorganized than many thought it was. It can’t seem to raise money, it doesn’t have adequate staffing, and there seems to be limited accountability of its leadership.
It would still be an uphill climb for anti-Trumpers to find a way to replace the candidate on the Republican ticket, and they would probably need a unifying figure — Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan come to mind — to come in and take the mantle. But the latest reports could be the opportunity some party insiders have been waiting for.