Trump plans to raise money in California in the aftermath of felony conviction

In the wake of former President Trump’s conviction on 34 felony charges, he is heading to California next week to raise campaign cash at high-dollar events in San Francisco, Beverly Hills and Newport Beach. They are expected to raise millions.

“A sham trial designed for one purpose: to brand Donald Trump as a ‘felon,’ ” Silicon Valley venture capitalist David Sacks, a host of the Bay Area fundraiser that is reportedly taking place at his Pacific Heights compound, wrote on the social media platform X shortly after the verdict was announced Thursday. “Watch Dems and the [mainstream media] endlessly repeat that word.”

The California events were planned before the verdict, but the Trump campaign said Friday morning that it had received $34.8 million since the former president was convicted. He touted the funding surge, still unofficial and unverified, during remarks Friday.

Trump was convicted by a New York jury of 34 counts of falsifying business records about $130,000 in payments made to adult film actor Stormy Daniels, who alleges they had sex in Lake Tahoe during a golf tournament, in an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump, who denies they had sex, is the first former president to be found guilty of a crime.

Trump is scheduled to be sentenced July 11, days before he is to be officially named the GOP’s presidential nominee at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. He is expected to appeal the conviction, and GOP leaders have stood by him, arguing without evidence that the trial in New York was rigged and a weaponization of the legal system by Democrats.

The former president will be in California for at least three days next week raising money to fuel Trump’s effort to topple his Democratic rival, President Biden, in November.

On Thursday, a fundraiser will be held by Sacks, a former executive at PayPal; his wife, Jacqueline Sacks; and venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook leader. Cost of admission: up to $300,000 per person and $500,000 per couple.

The following day, Trump will raise money in Beverly Hills, with attendees paying up to $250,000 per person, according to an invitation obtained by The Times.

Next Saturday, he will headline a fundraiser in Newport Beach with donors being asked to contribute up to $100,000, and with billionaire tech entrepreneur Palmer Luckey among the hosts. John Word, the co-founder of a health insurance company, and his wife, Kimberly, are reportedly hosting the event at their home overlooking Newport Harbor.

These events were already expected to raise large sums. But the former president’s fundraising has surged since the verdict was delivered. The online fundraising processor for Republican campaign donations crashed Thursday, the New York Times reported.

The Trump campaign attributed the technological glitch to a rush of donations to the former president’s campaign after the verdict was announced.

“From just minutes after the verdict, the digital fundraising system has been hit with record numbers of supporters,” said Brian Hughes, a senior advisor to the campaign. “The campaign is grateful for this massive outpouring of support because it shows that Americans have seen this sham trial as the political election interference that Biden and Democrats have always intended.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom sent out a fundraising plea for the Biden campaign on Friday morning, pointing to the amount of money Trump raised in less than 24 hours after the verdict was announced.

“This is an absolutely critical moment for all of those who want to re-elect Joe Biden and defeat Donald Trump to get involved on our side,” he wrote. “The president needs you. Especially today.”

Dan Schnur, a politics professor at USC, UC Berkeley and Pepperdine University, said that Trump’s campaign coffers could benefit from the verdict given the nation’s polarization.

“By definition, someone who’s writing him a check is already a true believer. And we’ve already seen through the weeks of the trial that the Trump campaign has figured out how to make this work to their fundraising benefit,” Schnur said. “There may be a few squeamish donors who drop out, but his strong supporters may end up writing even bigger checks.”

Indeed, shortly after the verdict, Shaun Maguire, a partner at a Menlo Park venture capital firm that funds tech companies, announced that he donated $300,000 to the Trump campaign.

“The timing isn’t a coincidence,” Maguire on wrote on X. He is a partner at Sequoia Capital and supported Hillary Clinton in her 2016 presidential campaign against Trump.

Still, while Trump received the backing of some notable tech leaders in his successful 2016 campaign, such as billionaire PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley largely favors Democrats.

In this election cycle, Biden and groups supporting his campaign have raised $17.1 million from the communications and electronics industry, which includes tech companies, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data by OpenSecrets. Trump has raised $1.7 million. (The analysis is of FEC data released April 22 by the nonpartisan group, which tracks electoral finances.)

The contrasting numbers reflect the president’s fundraising advantage nationally and in California. Biden’s campaign posted $194.8 million in receipts through April 30, compared with Trump’s $124.2 million, according to fundraising disclosures filed with the FEC.

Both candidates have raised more in California than any other state because the state’s donors bankroll political candidates on both sides of the aisle despite its cobalt tilt. Biden has raised $21 million from Californians through March 31, while Trump has raised $11.1 million, according to the FEC.

The Biden campaign accused Trump of offering favorable policies to those who donate large sums to his campaign.

“This week, Donald Trump will travel across the country to sell out America to his special interest donors, Big Oil and gas, or even Elon Musk,” said Ammar Moussa, the campaign’s director of rapid response. “Trump’s billionaire buddies know the deal — if they cut his campaign checks, he’ll give the super wealthy and corporations tax breaks, while he cuts Social Security and Medicare and raises taxes on the middle class.”

Democrats are also heading back to California to scoop up more campaign cash. Vice President Kamala Harris was scheduled to headline a fundraiser in San Diego County on Friday afternoon; her husband, Doug Emhoff, is to speak at a fundraiser in the evening in Los Angeles, according to the White House.

The next major fundraiser in Los Angeles for the Democratic ticket will take place June 15, when Biden will appear with former President Obama at the Peacock Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Late night host Jimmy Kimmel will moderate a conversation between the men; actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts are also expected to take part in the event.

Though the Biden campaign did not disclose the amount of money expected to be raised at the gathering, Democrats have historically raised enormous sums at such events in Los Angeles. Donors at a December event in Holmby Hills were asked to contribute up to $929,600 to the Biden Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee that supports the president’s reelection campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties.

Times staff writer Julia Wick contributed to this report.

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