The campaigns of seven Republican candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump spent over $400,000, combined, at his private club Mar-a-Lago in the buildup to Tuesday’s primary clashes, according to federal and state campaign finance records.
Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s campaign has spent almost $200,000 so far during the 2022 election cycle at the exclusive resort in Palm Beach, Florida: a payment of just over $135,000 in December and another of roughly $65,000 in April, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
In December, Walker attended a campaign fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago for his primary bid, according to a video showing him introducing Trump to the crowd of donors. “He is no doubt the greatest president to ever, ever hold office,” Walker said.
Trump endorsed Walker in September, and Walker is the favorite to become the Republican nominee to challenge Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.
Trump’s pick for Georgia governor, former Sen. David Perdue, spent over $20,000 from his campaign coffers at Mar-a-Lago in May, according to state campaign finance disclosures.
But Perdue, who has campaigned in part on spreading the former president’s debunked falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election, appears to be falling badly behind incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp.
Trump has slammed Kemp as a “very weak governor” who has “failed Georgia” after Kemp recertified President Joe Biden’s win in the Peach State during the 2020 presidential election. A Real Clear Politics polling average shows Perdue down 19 percentage points to Kemp going into the primary, even after Trump’s political action committee donated $500,000 to a group blasting Kemp in the gubernatorial contest. NBC News reported that Perdue didn’t buy any television ad time in the final week of the campaign.
An invitation to a March fundraising event at Mar-a-Lago for Perdue’s campaign says donors had to give or raise $24,200 in order to receive a picture with the candidate and Trump.
Trump’s spokesman Taylor Budowich told CNBC in a text message that “candidates and causes across the nation are being funded by the unprecedented amount of money being raised at Trump properties.”
“In Republican politics today, there’s only two seasons that matter: Mar-A-Lago season and Bedminster season, because it’s where candidates, organizations, and donors want to be,” he said. The Trump National Golf Club is located in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., is challenging incumbent Brad Raffensperger in the GOP primary for Georgia secretary of state. Raffensperger became one of Trump’s targets after he publicly rebuked many of the former president’s false conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
Hice’s campaign spent over $38,000 in February at Mar-a-Lago, campaign records show. An April video shows Trump hosting Hice at his private club for a campaign fundraising event. A recent poll shows Raffensperger with 28% support among likely GOP primary voters and Hice at 26%. Trump endorsed Hice in March 2021.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is competing in a primary runoff against George P. Bush, the son of former Florida governor and failed presidential candidate Jeb Bush, spent over $45,000 of his campaign funds between November and December at Mar-a-Lago, according to campaign finance records.
“You have done an incredible job, and you are a courageous person,” Trump said of Paxton in a December video at Trump’s private club, according to a tweet from Paxton.
Former Trump White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders; Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.; and former Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones have also spent campaign cash to rent space at Mar-a-Lago. All three have been endorsed by Trump.
Sanders, who is running for governor of Arkansas, did not respond to an email seeking comment. Representatives for all the other Republican candidates running for Congress did not respond to requests for comment.
— CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger contributed to this article.