Advertisement

Donald Trump holding $35,000-a-plate dinner to raise funds for 2020 re-election campaign

Donald J. Trump (C), flanked by first lady Melania Trump (L)delivers remarks before dinner with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House  in Washington, DC, USA, 26 June 2017.
Donald J. Trump (C), flanked by first lady Melania Trump (L)delivers remarks before dinner with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 26 June 2017. EPA/Win McNamee / POOL

First-time candidate Donald Trump got a late start on fundraising in 2016, holding his first big-ticket donor event only five months before Election Day. That won’t be the case next time.

Some 40 months ahead his next election, the president holds court at a $35,000-per-plate donor event Wednesday night at his hotel in Washington. About 300 people are expected to attend an event that will pull in about $10 million, said Lindsay Jancek, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there was nothing unusual about raising political cash so early.

“He’s raising money for the party,” she said. “I don’t think that’s abnormal for any president.”

Tweet This

Sanders’ statement that Trump is raising cash for the GOP tells only part of the story, though.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Donald Trump, Putin set to meet at G20 summit: Russian official

The first cut of the money raised goes to Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. The rest gets spread among the RNC and other various Republican entities. Having multiple beneficiaries is what allows Trump to ask for well above the usual $5,400 per-donor maximum for each election cycle.

Those contribution limits are likely to change because this fundraiser is so early that new donation limits for 2020 have not been set by the Federal Election Commission.

WATCH: Trump confident Republicans will eventually pass healthcare reform legislation

Trump confident Republicans will eventually pass healthcare reform legislation
Trump confident Republicans will eventually pass healthcare reform legislation

Breaking with tradition, the White House initially planned to bar reporters from seeing Trump’s speech at the fundraiser. But it relented after reporters objected and agreed to let a pool of reporters watch the president’s remarks.

Trump’s historically early campaigning comes with benefits and challenges.

READ MORE: Trump travel ban: what Canadian residents can expect at the border

In the first three months of this year, the Trump campaign raised more than $7 million, through small donations and the sale of Trump-themed merchandise such as the ubiquitous, red “Make America Great Again” ball caps.

Story continues below advertisement

The RNC also is benefiting from the new president’s active campaigning, having raised about $62 million through the end of last month. The party has raised more online this year than it did in all of 2016 – a testament to Trump’s success in reaching small donors.

WATCH: President Trump meets with World Series Champion Chicago Cubs

President Trump meets with World Series Champion Chicago Cubs
President Trump meets with World Series Champion Chicago Cubs

Trump’s re-election money helps pay for his political rallies. He’s held five so far, and campaign director Michael Glassner says those events help keep him connected to his base of voters.

The constant politicking, however, means it is challenging for government employees to avoid inappropriately crossing ethical lines. Some watchdog groups have flagged White House employee tweets that veer into campaign territory. White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters says the employees work closely with lawyers to avoid pitfalls.

Walters also says the White House takes care to make sure that Trump’s political events and travel – including the Wednesday fundraiser – are paid for by the campaign and other political entities.