Has Donald Trump Broken Campaign Laws Ahead of Potential 2024 Run?

Questions have been raised about whether Donald Trump's frequent teasing that he will run for president again is a violation of federal campaign laws.

Democratic super PAC American Bridge has formally accused the former president of breaking campaign finance laws with his hints and nods, and has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission.

The group claimed that by not formally declaring himself a candidate but still raising more than $122 million via his political committees, Trump has broken laws which state that those who officially declare themselves a candidate or raise or spend more than $5,000 in support of a presidential campaign must register with the Federal Election Commission within 15 days.

While Trump has hinted at a desire to run for president again almost immediately since he left office last January, the complaint filed by American Bridge uses recent examples of Trump's own words to justify their lawsuit.

This included a September 2021 remark when asked if he was going to run in 2024, to which Trump replied: "I know what I'm going to do, but we're not supposed to be talking about it yet from the standpoint of campaign finance laws."

In February, Trump also told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida: "We did it twice, and we'll do it again. We're going to be doing it again, a third time."

Trump also referred to himself as the "45th and 47th" president of the United States while playing on one of his golf courses in a video that was widely shared online.

Speaking to Newsweek, Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor who previously worked as Los Angeles' chief enforcer of election laws, said that while American Bridge has raised "a potential violation'' with their complaint, the bigger question is whether the FEC will act upon it.

Rahmani added that there are also two "huge loopholes" that Trump may take advantage of with regards to campaign finance law requiring candidates to file a statement of candidacy within 15 days of making a decision and limiting contributions to $5,000.

"Candidates do not have to file a statement when they are only 'testing the waters,' which is what Trump will say he's doing," Rahmani said. "Nor does 'soft money' count toward the $5,000 contribution limitation."

In February, the FEC chose not to punish Trump for violations regarding "soft money"—contributions to a political party rather than a particular candidate which are not as regulated—which his team admitted came via a 2016 fundraiser.

"American Bridge does not have standing to enforce campaign finance laws itself. It needs the FEC to do so," Rahmani added. "And given the FEC's recent history of lax enforcement, I'd be surprised if anything comes of this complaint."

Speaking to The New York Times, Jessica Floyd, the president of American Bridge, said Trump should "have to adhere to the law" as all other candidates do.
"When he says 'I'm going to do it a third time,' that's not flirting. That's more than a toe dip."

In a statement, Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Trump, dismissed the complaint.

"America is spiraling into disaster because of the Democrats' failures, and instead of reversing course, they are busy filing frivolous complaints that have zero merit," he said.

trump finance laws
Democratic Super PAC American Bridge has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission alleging former President Donald Trump violated campaign finance laws. Pictured, Trump arrives for a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, on January 9, 2020. SAUL LOEB / AFP/Getty Images