Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani raises less than $1 million from 13 donors in legal defense fund

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Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani departs the U.S. District Courthouse after he was ordered to pay $148 million in his defamation case in Washington, U.S., December 15, 2023.

Bonnie Cash | Reuters

Rudy Giuliani was able to raise less than $1 million from just 13 donors, among them his friends and a group of former President Donald Trump‘s allies, to help pay off his legal fees as he faces a $146 million defamation judgment and a criminal prosecution, a new Federal Election Commission filing reviewed by CNBC shows.

Giuliani’s political action committee raised just over $727,000 from August through December, according to the FEC filing Thursday. His son Andrew Giuliani, who is helping run the PAC, did not return a request for comment on the haul.

The single biggest donation came from a Corona del Mar, California, woman named Caryn Borland, who donated $300,000, more than 40% of the total donations to Giuliani, the filing shows.

Borland, who also is known as Caryn Hildenbrand, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last year, the Caryn L Hildenbrand Living Trust donated $1 million to a legal defense fund for Trump, which also was the single largest donation to that fund, which had raised $1.6 million, according to a disclosure filed to the Internal Revenue Service.

Hildenbrand and her husband Michael, who donated more than $1 million in campaign-related contributions to Trump’ 2020 reelection bid, have shared memes and social media posts about the QAnon conspiracy theory according to The New York Times. The newspaper last month also reported that Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, had once canceled a fundraiser with the couple because of their QAnon posts.

Though the Giuliani PAC misspells Caryn Borland’s first name on their filing as “Garyn,” the address matches that of the mailing address listed on the IRS filing for the donation made to Trump’s defense fund.

His PAC has spent over $500,000 on his legal fees so far and had $180,000 on hand entering 2024.

The attorney is facing a litany of legal and financial struggles as a result of his work for Trump trying to reverse Trump’s loss in the 2020 election to President Joe Biden.

In August, Giuliani, Trump and more than a dozen other defendants were criminally charged in Georgia state court with racketeering related to efforts to reverse Trump’s 2020 election loss in the state. He also is being sued for defamation by the voting machine manufacturers Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic.

In December, a federal court jury in Washington, D.C., found Giuliani liable for $146 million in damages for defaming two Georgia election workers whom he falsely accused of ballot fraud in 2020.

A week later, Giuliani filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing that judgment, and money he owes various law firms and attorneys.

A court filing shows that Giuliani owes more than $1.3 million to the law firm Davidoff Hutcher & Citron. The lawyer Robert Costello sued Giuliani in September for $1.36 million in unpaid legal fees dating to 2019.

Giuliani had planned to raise some of his legal defense money at two of Trump’s properties, Andrew Giuliani previously said.

Donors were asked to each give $100,000 to the PAC to get access to a September event at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, which featured a discussion between him and Giuliani.

But just three people are listed on the filing as giving $100,000 or more to the PAC.

One of them was Elizabeth Ailes, the widow of former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, according to the filing.

“Yes, I gave Rudy $100,000 for his legal defense PAC and I was happy to do so,” Elizabeth Ailes told CNBC.

“I am upset by the way Rudy has been persecuted and I believe it’s important to push back against a politicized judicial system,” Ailes said.

She called Giuliani a “friend” and noted that as mayor he had officiated at her wedding to Roger Ailes.

Roger Ailes resigned from Fox News in 2016 after being accused by current and former Fox News employees of sexual harassment. Settlements based on those accusations reportedly cost Fox’s parent company millions of dollars.

Before he was ousted from Fox, Roger Ailes’ conservative news network tried to bolster Trump’s candidacy in 2016.

“They were friends for a very long time, way before Fox News,” Elizabeth Ailes told Newsmax last May. The only other person closest to Roger [besides Elizabeth] is Donald Trump.”

Other Trump backers gave less to Giuliani.

Businessman and longtime Trump supporter, Lewis Topper, gave $25,000 to the PAC, according to the filing.

And the real estate investment firm Probity International, which is run by Trump donor Robert Zarnegin, gave $35,000 to the Giuliani PAC.

Arnold Gumowitz, a veteran real estate executive, gave $50,000 to the PAC. He also donated to Andrew Giuliani’s failed gubernatorial run.

Matthew Martorano, who donated $5,000 to the Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee last year, gave $100,000 to the Giuliani committee.

Martorano could not be reached for comment.

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