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VERIFY: Who is paying for President Trump's election lawsuits?

President Trump has sued several states during the election. His campaign, or the Republican National Committee, will be responsible for paying his legal team.

WASHINGTON — QUESTION:

Are taxpayers responsible for paying President Trump's election-related lawsuits?

ANSWER:

No, that obligation falls on Trump's presidential campaign or the Republican National Party (RNC). 

SOURCES:

Brendan Fischer- Director of Federal Reform at the Campaign Legal Center

Federal Elections Commission spokesperson and "Recounts and contests elections"

PROCESS:

Five viewers emailed the Verify team wondering who will foot the bill for President Trump's lawsuits filed in connection to ongoing vote counting. 

“Will taxpayers pay for the lawsuits being filed over the election results in Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona and other states?" Gwen Nikirk in Hagerstown, Maryland asked.

Evelyn Gallagher from Clarksburg, Maryland asked us, "who's paying for all the Trump state lawsuits that are out there? Please tell me it's not the taxpayers."

Our sources are the Federal Election Commission and Brendan Fischer, director of the Federal Reform program at Campaign Legal Center, a non-partisan, nonprofit group.

The FEC allows campaigns and political party committees to use campaign funds to pay for election-related lawsuits. 

"The Commission permits the use of campaign funds of federal candidates to be used for legal expenses related to campaign or officeholder activity, where such expenses would not have incurred had the individual not been a candidate or officeholder," Christian Hilland, deputy press secretary for the FEC, said. "Candidates may also set up legal defense funds to solicit donations to pay for expenses related to legal challenges. In addition, national party committees may use funds from their legal account to pay for legal expenses."

Fischer said candidates could use leftover money from campaigning, or set up a legal fund, and both Trump's campaign and the RNC have. 

Credit: Donald J. Trump for President Website
A screenshot of the donaldjtrump.com which shows an ad for donors to contribute towards his 'official election defense fund.'
Credit: Republican National Committee website
A screenshot of gop.com, showing an ad for the "Official Election Defense Fund."


“The President and the Republican National Committee will use campaign funds and the political party's funds to pay for these lawsuits," Fischer said. "Taxpayers will not be paying for the President's post-election litigation." 

If a candidate used taxpayer dollars, it would break ethics laws that prevent tax money from being used on political activities. 

But there is a caveat: the states being sued could be indirectly on the hook.

"The states the president is suing may incur some costs in defending themselves against that litigation," Fischer said. "So even though the president himself and his campaign will not be tapping into taxpayer funds to pay for this litigation, states will certainly incur some expenses.”

That would be money coming from state taxes, which is the case with any lawsuit against a state, Fischer explained.

So we can Verify, it's false that taxpayers will directly cover lawsuits filed by President Trump. That will be covered by the Trump campaign or the GOP. However, states, a.k.a taxpayers, might incur some costs as the opposing parties in these lawsuits.

RELATED: VERIFY: Are taxpayers footing the bill for the president to travel on the campaign trail?

RELATED: VERIFY: Fact-checking Trump's Thursday post-election speech

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