ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Donald Trump is officially giving up his status as the presidential candidate who pays his own way. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have agreed to set up two joint fundraising committees to raise money from the big donors Trump used to scorn. NPR's Peter Overby has the story.
PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: The two new committees are Trump Victory and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee. What they do is take contributions that far exceed the legal limits and then divvy up the money to meet those limits.
SHEILA KRUMHOLZ: Joint fundraising committees are not technically an end run around the contribution limits.
OVERBY: This is Sheila Krumholz. She's director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign money. With a joint fundraising committee, she says...
KRUMHOLZ: One single donor can deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars.
OVERBY: To be exact, a donor can deliver $449,400 to Trump Victory. Fifty-four-hundred - less than 1 percent - goes to the Trump campaign itself. The rest goes to the Republican National Committee and eleven state party committees that are willing to share.
It wasn't so long ago that Trump paid for most of his campaign himself. The campaign says he's writing off the primary season loans - $36 million worth. He used the self-financing as a weapon, flaying his rivals over the money they'd raised and the rich donors they've courted. Last August at the Iowa State Fair, he talked about Jeb Bush and the rich donors who gave more than $120 million to help him.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
DONALD TRUMP: These are not people that are doing it because they like the color of his hair. Believe me. These are highly sophisticated killers, and when they give $5 million or 2 million or a million to Jeb, they have him just like a puppet. He'll do whatever they want. He is their puppet.
OVERBY: This afternoon the Trump campaign didn't reply to NPR's request for comment, and the Republican National Committee said a spokesperson wasn't available. Now Trump's facing Hillary Clinton, and on fundraising, he's late to the big game. Clinton's campaign created a joint fundraising committee with the Democratic National Committee last September. Thirty-two state party committees are also participating. So far, it's raised more than $60 million from the Democrats' wealthiest donors.
Some Republican donors are rallying to Trump. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has pledged $100 million. But after nearly a years of contemptuous language from the candidate, the party's high net worth supporters haven't rushed to embrace him. This may be a problem for the joint fundraising committee. Charles Spies worked on superPACs for Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney.
CHARLES SPIES: Just because they have an entity that's allowed to take over $400,000 per contributor doesn't mean that there's any contributors out there who are going to give money to this.
OVERBY: Donors who are out there need to move fast. The ballpark estimate for team Trump in the general election is well on the far side of a billion dollars. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.