A Wall Street Journal investigation found that a number of key allies of former President Donald Trump – including far-right media personality Alex Jones and Julie Jenkins Fancelli, heiress of Publix supermarket fortune – helped fund the rally that led to the storm preceded the US Capitol on January 6, which left five dead.
Jones pledged $ 50,000 of his own money for the event and organized additional funding, including a $ 300,000 contribution from Jenkins Fancelli, a major GOP donor, according to reporters Shalini Ramachandran, Alexandra Berzon and Rebecca Ballhaus.
Overall, the rally cost around $ 500,000, according to the report. That event, in which Trump promised never to allow President Joe Biden to vote in November – and whipped supporters who later took over the Capitol – laid the groundwork for Trump's second impeachment in the House of Representatives. Based in part on comments he made at the rally, Trump was charged with "incitement to rebellion" and will soon face trial in the Senate.
The Journal also reports that, according to Federal Election Commission records, "at least five former Trump campaign workers" were involved in the logistics of the event. The rally was particularly lucrative for Trump fundraising officer Caroline Wren, who received $ 730,000 during the 2020 election cycle to help her and her company work on the fundraiser for the Trump re-election campaign team, according to the Journal.
Jones, a prolific conspiracy theorist who helped promote many discredited claims, such as the idea that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, tied his money in exchange for a speaker at the rally. He spoke at another rally the night before but promoted the event on January 6th. Both rallies were demonstrations for the ongoing Stop the Steal movement, which falsely claims that the presidential election was stolen from Trump.
Jenkins Fancelli's donation was unrelated to speaking time and was administered by Wren, whom Jenkins Fancelli reportedly selected to coordinate the rally. In addition to her contribution to the January 6 event, Jenkins Fancelli donated nearly $ 1 million to the Trump campaign and the Republican Party during the 2020 election cycle.
The rally was hosted by a group called "Women for America First". It took place south of the White House in an area known as the Ellipse, while the Capitol was where Congressional lawmakers gathered to confirm the results of those elections. In his remarks, Trump has beaten up Republicans whom he found insufficiently loyal, including his own Vice President Mike Pence. In closing, he encouraged the crowd to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to directly challenge these lawmakers.
By that afternoon, hundreds of people had broken through the building, many waving pro-Trump flags as well as other right-wing emblems such as the Confederate flag. Five people died in the chaos, including a police officer; Two other police officers present that day have since died of suicide and at least 140 police officers have been injured, some seriously.
Jones was not accused of any wrongdoing, nor was Jenkins Fancelli.
Efforts to overturn the election were successful in activating Trump donors
The large sum of money raised for the January 6 rally is a reference to the fundraiser that spanned the final months of Trump's presidency. Overall, the former president's opposition to the election results turned out to be a lucrative fundraiser.
In fact, Trump's donors were motivated to donate approximately $ 86 million to the Republican National Committee and organizations directly linked to Trump between November 24 and December 31, 2020. This comes from a notice released on Friday by the Federal Elections Commission.
Bloomberg first reported that, according to WinRed, the Republican Party's online fundraising arm, a total of $ 207 million was raised for Republican candidates and committees in the 19 days following the November 3 election. Some of that went into runoff elections for the Georgia Senate seats, both of which were lost to the GOP.
But around $ 68 million went to Trump Make America Great Again, a joint fundraising committee that, according to Bloomberg, divides its revenues between Save America, Trump's Political Action Committee and the RNC. As Politico noted, Trump has a great deal of legal flexibility in using Save America's money – from running ads in upcoming elections to paying allies and family members for work.
While it remains to be seen how exactly Save America's money will be used, Trump is currently faced with questions regarding the links between his re-election campaign and the January 6 rally. Trump's 2020 re-election campaign paid more than $ 2.7 million to organizations and individuals associated with the January 6 event, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. A significant portion of these donations were “dark money,” which “makes it difficult to know who paid for the campaign and when,” wrote reporter Anna Massoglia.
The Center for Responsive Politics also noted that eight people were hired either as staff or contractors to organize the rally with campaign tools. However, the campaign has said that it did not pay for the rally and that these people were not employed for the campaign on the day of the rally and its violent outcome.
Support Vox explanatory journalism
At Vox, we want to answer your most important questions every day and provide you and our audiences around the world with information that empowers you through understanding. Vox's work reaches more people than ever before, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism is consuming resources. Your financial contribution is not a donation, but it does allow our staff to continue offering free articles, videos and podcasts to everyone who needs them. Please consider contributing to Vox today, starting at $ 3.