Trump’s picks in Tuesday’s GOP primaries spent over $400,000 at Mar-a-Lago

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is seen in Palm Beach, Florida, February 8, 2021.
Marco Bello | Reuters

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.

Republican Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s campaign spent almost $200,000 so far during the 2022 election cycle at the exclusive resort in Palm Beach, Fla. — a payment of just over $135,000 in December and another 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 for Senate, according to a video showing him introduced to the crowd of donors. Trump endorsed Walker in September and he’s the favorite to become the Republican nominee to challenge Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.

“He is no doubt the greatest president to ever, ever hold office,” Walker says as he serenades Trump at his club in Palm Beach, Fla.

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 backing 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 invite 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 referring to the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga. is challenging Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the GOP primary for that seat. 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 last year.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is running in a primary runoff against George P. Bush, the son of former Florida governor and failed presidential candidate Jeb Bush, spent a combined 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, former Georgia state House Rep. Vernon Jones have also spent campaign cash to rent space at Mar-a-Lago. All three have been endorsed by Trump.

Sanders did not return an email seeking comment. Representatives for all the other Republican candidates running for Congress did not return requests for comment.

CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger contributed to this article.

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