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Trump camp plans sit-down with outside groups after FEC relaxes coordination rules

1 month ago 48

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign is inviting prominent outside groups to a private meeting next week in Palm Beach, Florida, to talk about working together and planning for the election.

On Tuesday, the Trump campaign sent a letter to pro-Trump, external organizations asking them to attend an “entirely off-the-record, private,” and “invite-only” meeting with senior campaign officials, according to a copy of the letter obtained by POLITICO. The sit-down, which the letter describes as a “meeting of the political minds,” is aimed at discussing “collaborat[ion]” and “priorities and plans” for the general election.

“Please know that your attendance is considered critical, and your effort to be there would be greatly appreciated,” reads the letter, which was written by James Blair, the Trump campaign’s political director.

By holding the meeting, the Trump operation and the third-party entities could conceivably get on the same page about their plans. Two people familiar with the planning for the event said Heritage Action and Turning Point Action were among the pro-Trump groups invited.

A Trump campaign representative declined to comment on the letter.

The decision to hold the meeting, which is set for the afternoon of May 3, illustrates how the campaign plans to utilize the support of outside organizations. With President Joe Biden’s campaign having a four-year head start in field deployment and voter contact efforts, the Trump campaign is racing to play catch-up.

Trump is also at a substantial cash disadvantage: According to the most recent campaign finance reports, he has $93 million on hand, less than half as much as Biden.

The former president’s campaign the same weekend is also hosting a three-day donor retreat in Palm Beach. Trump and more than a dozen other prominent Republican officeholders, including several possible vice presidential contenders, are expected to attend.

There have long been tight restrictions on how federal campaigns and political committees can coordinate. But a recent Federal Election Commission advisory opinion, dated March 20, relaxed limitations on how they can collaborate on paid door-knocking efforts.

“We will share our macro view of the electorate with you and discuss new opportunities (in light of a recent FEC ruling) for our organizations to collaborate more effectively than we have been able to in the past,” according to the invitation. “We also ask you to come prepared to share any information you legally can about your priorities and plans with us.”

The letter indicates that Trump campaign officials and outside groups will be treading carefully legally during the meeting. It notes that Republican National Committee chief counsel Charlie Spies and Trump campaign counsel Dave Warrington “will oversee this meeting to ensure legal compliance.”

Trump officials appear to be placing a premium on the new FEC decision. Last week, Blair spoke before a meeting of the Rockbridge Network, a secretive gathering of conservative donors. During his remarks, Blair alluded to the advisory opinion, which he described as a game-changer, according to two people familiar with the remarks who were granted anonymity to discuss the matter.

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