Donald Trump Is Illegally Raising Money and the FEC Is Allowing It, Suit Alleges

A liberal super PAC is suing the Federal Election Commission for allegedly letting Trump fundraise and campaign before formally declaring himself a candidate

AUSTIN, TEXAS - MAY 14: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the American Freedom Tour at the Austin Convention Center on May 14, 2022 in Austin, Texas. The national event gathered conservatives from around the country to defend, empower and help promote conservative agendas nationwide. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Donald Trump. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty

While Donald Trump hasn't officially announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, he is raising lots of money for a potential campaign — and that's a problem, according to a new lawsuit.

The suit, filed by liberal political action committee American Bridge, claims that the Federal Election Commission has been turning a blind eye while Trump and his team continue to postpone an official presidential announcement all while fundraising and holding rallies.

Campaign finance laws overseen by the FEC require those who raise or spend more than $5,000 for a campaign to register as a candidate.

While the suit contends that Trump is the one building an arsenal of funds illegally, it's directed at the FEC — which American Bridge argues hasn't stopped Trump from fundraising for a campaign that technically doesn't yet exist.

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Jessica Floyd, president of American Bridge, said in a statement shared with PEOPLE that the organization "is filing suit to hold Trump accountable and stop his illegal campaign advantage."

"Donald Trump is using the media to make a mockery of this country's election laws. He is out there telling New York magazine, Fox News and anyone who will listen that he is running for president, yet trying to get away with being coy while spending huge sums of money illegally," Floyd added in the statement.

The FEC did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

American Bridge argues that Trump is attempting "to disguise his run for the presidency, leaving ... voters in the dark about the contributions and expenditures he has received and made, and who is managing the campaign's finances—all information they are entitled to" under federal law.

The suit argues the FEC is not "taking action" nor "acting swiftly to enforce the law." As a result, it claims that Trump now has "a competitive edge over the Democratic candidate in the 2024 presidential election."

The suit notes that, while Trump hasn't officially declared his candidacy for 2024, he has made several statements "indicating that he has decided to run for president."

In fact, the former president began hinting about a return to the White House almost as soon as he left, including in a July 1, 2021, interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, when he said "yes" when asked whether he had made a decision regarding a 2024 campaign.

A year later — in July 2022 — Trump told a reporter for New York magazine, "[In] my own mind, I've already made that decision, so nothing factors in anymore."

In that same interview, Trump indicated that it's not a question of if he'll run but rather a question of when he'll announce his candidacy.

"I would say my big decision will be whether I go before or after," he told the magazine. "You understand what that means?"

Asked if he was referring to the upcoming midterm elections in November, Trump replied affirmatively. "Midterms," he says. "Do I go before or after? That will be my big decision."

While earlier reports indicated that Trump considered announcing his third presidential campaign on Independence Day, Trump has since called that claim "fake news."

Despite the open flirtation with another campaign, some former members of Trump's circle believe he won't run at all.

Trump's former National Security Advisor John Bolton said in a July interview with CBS News that Trump would likely "talk about it incessantly. He may even announce he's running but when it comes right down to it, he won't run."

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John Kelly, who served as Trump's chief of staff from 2017 until 2019, made the same prediction, telling The Atlantic: "Trump won't run. He'll continue talking about it; he may even declare, but he will not run. And the reason is he simply cannot be seen as a loser."

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