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President-elect Joe Biden needs money, and he’s asking Americans to help him out.
In just 56 days, Biden will presumably remove President Donald Trump’s golden curtains and make his own mark on the Oval Office. Until then he’s building up his team, receiving Presidential Daily Briefings from the intelligence community, and preparing to take over a federal bureaucracy that includes 2 million employees and 1.3 million active duty troops. He’ll also gain access to about $6 million to pay staff, 175,000 square feet of federal office space, the use of federal aircraft, and travel reimbursement.
But through it all, his team is still asking for donations leaving some scratching their heads and wondering why he needs it.
Ahead of the General Services Administration approving Biden’s transition this week, his team was fully funding their own staff, office space, travel and more. “President Trump refuses to concede and is delaying the transition, we have to fund it ourselves and need your help. If you’re able, chip in to help fund the Biden-Harris transition,” Biden tweeted, to much criticism.
Nearly 20 million Americans are currently receiving unemployment benefits, and many of those are set to expire at the end of the year. “Politicians are still asking us for money while their salaries are paid and people don’t have money for rent, food, etc. They won’t even promise trying to alleviate people of things like student debt,” wrote Frederick Joseph, a former surrogate for the Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns on Twitter.
Biden has also requested funds to help his mounting legal defense against the Trump campaign, who are still challenging the results of the election in states across the country.
“We can’t allow Trump to win any of these lawsuits just because we can’t afford to fight back,” an email sent to Biden supporters read. “We need to be able to show up in court to defend Joe and Kamala’s victory…and to do that we are counting on a surge of donations today into the Biden Fight Fund.”
So far, the Biden transition has raised nearly $10 million, according to Politico. That far outweighs the expected funding from the GSA, and what Trump and Hillary Clinton raised respectively for their transition teams. Trump raised $6.5 million in 2016 and Clinton raised about $2.1 million. In 2009, Barack Obama raised $6.8 million.
As late as mid-October the Biden campaign still had about $180.6 million cash on hand, some of which they undoubtedly have left in their coffers. So why do they need more money? And how can they use it?
A campaign doesn’t end after election night
Staff stay on to wind things down, close out offices, file and archive papers. Campaigns may continue to pay rent and salaries. They also need to repay any outstanding credit card bills or loans. Sometimes, candidates will continue to fundraise even after they drop out of the race to pay off these outstanding fees (Rudy Giuliani’s campaign was in debt for years after his presidential run).
Biden can also start his reelection campaign and transfer the remaining funds into that. As long as all debts are paid, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) allows candidates to move funds between authorized committees so long as they’re for the same person. Biden 2024 could be infused with a few million dollars before it’s even officially underway.
The money can also be used to create a “leadership PAC” to support Biden’s political agenda, something that may come in handy if he’s faced with a Republican Senate next year.
Speaking of the Senate, two very important seats in Georgia are still up for grabs, and some are already mounting up for the 2022 elections. There’s no limit set by the FEC on how much campaign money a candidate can donate to national, state, or local party committees. Biden could hand the Democratic National Committee some of his excess cash. His campaign can also give directly to state and local candidates and up to $2,000 to each federal candidate.
Finally, there’s the charity route. This is an option typically used by lame duck politicians. But legally, the Biden campaign would be allowed to donate its excess funds to any charity of its choice.
It should be noted that the Trump campaign is also continuing to request donations to help offset legal fees. “President Trump has activated the Official Election Defense Fund, and we need YOU to step up and make sure we have the resources to FIGHT BACK against potential voter fraud,” an email to his supporters recently read. Trump has indicated that he is considering a 2024 run, and could also use the money he collects this year to bolster another go in four years.
More politics coverage from Fortune:
- Betting markets called the presidential election more accurately than polls
- Biden beat Trump but now faces the final boss: Mitch McConnell
- Lockdown, superspreader, unprecedented: 2020 has changed the English language, for good
- The women joining the Biden-Harris administration
- Biden’s corporate tax plan depends on Georgia’s Senate results