The Biden campaign crows about its small-dollar donors. But new disclosures reveal how his reelection campaign is bankrolled by elites and activists through a sophisticated network of Democratic Party committees.
The Biden reelection campaign boasts about its fundraising haul over the 3rd quarter of 2023. Campaigns naturally put out statements to the press that highlight the positives and accentuate the items that demonstrate momentum. In Biden’s case, however, the campaign has veered into exaggeration while glossing over facts it would rather the American public didn’t understand.
In September, the Biden campaign announced it’d raised a total of $71 million for the third quarter (June-September). Hollywood producer and leftist mega-donor Jeffrey Katzenberg, who serves as the co-chair of Biden’s campaign, told CNN they’d exceeded their goals, noting this fundraising period typically produces sluggish results. It’s a long way from the general election next November, summer is usually a slow political fundraising time, and in Biden’s case, poll numbers aren’t exactly favorable for creating momentum this early on.
The Biden 2024 campaign focused on the support of grassroots donors and the amount of cash it still has on hand. It notes the campaign’s average “grassroots contribution” was $40, while 97 percent of all donations did not exceed $200. The campaign also bragged about the $2 million raised from sales of “Dark Brandon”-themed merchandise. The vast majority of the money, however, has come via a joint fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee that allows donors to give to Biden, the DNC, and state parties.
That fundraising, despite the claims of the campaign to the contrary, is dominated by radical mega-donors on the Left.
The Biden campaign’s $91 million war chest is bigger than that of Trump, DeSantis, and Haley combined. No surprise there—Biden so far is an incumbent with no primary challenger, while the Republican field has yet to solidify around a single nominee. Biden’s joint fundraising operation with the DNC cannot be replicated on the Republican side until the contested primary has been decided. So, naturally, he can raise more money at this early juncture.
Let’s examine the Biden campaign’s other claims. Far from averaging $40, 3rd-quarter donations averaged $3307, according to a quick and dirty analysis using the latest FEC filings.
But let’s back up a moment. That funny math uses contributions from other committees (e.g. Biden Victory Fund, Biden Action Fund, Kamala Harris for the People) to the official Biden for President PAC to arrive at a $40 average. The Biden for President PAC took in transfers from these committees totaling $44.6 million—more than two-thirds of the $63.3 million total it reported for the quarter.
On top of that, the top 43 donations come from other leftist PACs, such as Progressive Turnout Project, Electing Women PAC, Laborers International Union North America (LIUNA) PAC, and a few dozen other radical progressive PACs and unions which gave $5,000 donations.
Looking at individual contributions, the top 3,100 donations to the Biden for President PAC ranged from $3,000–$5,000 a pop. The next 3,022 donations were in the range of $1,000–$2,999.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but that means the top 6,122 donations, or 16 percent of Biden’s total contributions, were over $1,000. It’s great to know Biden supporters are doing so well in this economy, but one wonders how the spokespeople for the campaign came up with the 97% under $200 claim.
How Did the PACs Raise Money For Biden?
It’s certainly plausible that all those other PACs pouring money into the Biden campaign fund are collecting grassroots donations, which might partially excuse the excess with which the campaign announced its “strong grassroots support.”
Let’s take a quick look at the Biden Victory Fund. In 2020, the Biden campaign partnered with the Democratic National Committee to run joint fundraising operations. According to the Washington Post,
The Biden Victory Fund, a committee that raises money with the Democratic National Committee . . . filed an agreement that allows wealthy donors to give large checks that will be shared by the campaign, the party and 26 state parties—the latest move by Democrats to ramp up the former vice president’s fundraising for the general election.
The decision allows Biden to raise money at the levels of the campaign for Trump, who has enjoyed a fundraising advantage as the incumbent president who can coordinate directly with the party and state parties.
In 2020, donors could give up to $620,600 to the Biden Victory Fund. In 2024, that figure has jumped to $929,600, again split among the Biden campaign fund, the DNC, and state Democratic Party organizations. The top 11,779 entries are donations from PACs and organizations. The vast majority of those come from ActBlue (more on them in a moment). The next 20,629 lines in the report, when sorted by entity type, come from individuals. The top 103 individual contributions are over $50,000 each, up to $929,600, and totaling $18,856,812. Just to illustrate by picking a random figure out of the air, the top 1,834 individual contributions to the Biden Victory Fund are over $2,000.
The average of all contributions to the Biden Victory Fund comes out to $2,279. Again, not exactly “grassroots.”
ActBlue Acting Hinky
Remember that the top 11,767 donations to the Biden Victory Fund in the third quarter came in via ActBlue, for a total of $2.8 million. ActBlue, as its name implies, works exclusively with Democratic and progressive campaigns and organizations to create a “conduit” for donations. FEC regulations allow for donations from this “conduit” to be earmarked for one or more organizations. On its website, ActBlue brags that it has raised over $12 billion for progressive causes and candidates.
Throughout the summer of 2023, several outlets, including James O’Keefe and O’Keefe Media Group (OMG), investigated ActBlue’s filings with the FEC and various states, and found all kinds of questionable items. According to PJ Media:
“FEC data shows that some senior citizens across the U.S. have been donating thousands of times per year,” O’Keefe began. “Some of these individuals’ names and addresses are attached to over $200,000 in contributions. We went and knocked on a few of their doors to corroborate the data that we received from a group of citizen journalists called Election Watch in Maryland.” The video then showed O’Keefe visiting someone who is listed as donating over $217,000, through 12,000 separate contributions. This money was earmarked for various entities through leftist platform ActBlue over three years’ time. Some of the donations were made with variations of the person’s name and address, O’Keefe stated.
The data he obtained was state and FEC data, O’Keefe said. “We’re wondering if these donors are victims of what appears to be a money-laundering scheme, or [if] these residents actually participated in the scheme. We’re making phone calls, we’re knocking on doors, these are things that you can do, we hope you do that.” There are “bizarre amounts of data” on homes and individuals making many thousands of dollars of donations, O’Keefe said, urging others to help him investigate.
OMG did a follow-up investigation after an organization filed a complaint with the FEC regarding possible laundering of foreign funds using this scheme.
A total of 3,710 of the donations to the Biden Victory Fund joint fundraising venture, fueled by ActBlue, came in at $25 or below.
Grassroots? Uh, sure.
A simple examination of the third quarter receipts for the various organizations raising money for Biden’s reelection raise more questions than answers, and reveal the campaign’s statements touting “strong grassroots support” as suspicious, at best. No doubt, many Democratic voters have made thousands of small-dollar donations, but the degree of mega-donor support, PAC and labor union transfers, and questionable funding via “conduits” puts the campaign’s statements under a needed spotlight.