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Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida raised more than $1.8 million during the first three months of the year, largely driven by small donations as the Republican mounted a vigorous defense of former President Donald Trump, a new filing shows.

© Provided by CNN Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley.

His robust fundraising swamps the roughly $192,000 he raised during the first three months in the off-year of the previous election cycle. And it underscores how much the Republican small-donor base is rewarding loyalty to the former President. Other Republicans who have sided with Trump reported collecting big sums during the first three months of the year as the nation grappled with the aftermath of a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol and Trump’s second impeachment.

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Trump ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia previously reported bringing in $3.2 million, a staggering sum for her first fundraising quarter in Congress.

Other Republicans who objected to certifying President Joe Biden’s victory also reported substantial first-quarter hauls: Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri collected about $3 million, while Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas raised $3.6 million in his campaign account. Cruz’s total fundraising, when adding in affiliated committees, topped $5 million, his campaign said.

Thursday is the deadline for congressional candidates to report their early fundraising and spending activity for the 2022 cycle to the Federal Election Commission. The reports cover activity from January 1 through March 31.

A Justice Department investigation into Gaetz became public in late March, just as the quarter ended. Federal investigators are examining whether Gaetz engaged in a relationship with a woman that began when she was 17, according to people familiar with the investigation. The House Ethics Committee also has opened an inquiry. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing.

He started April with more than $2.08 million in cash reserves.

Establishment support for Liz Cheney

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming — who has faced conservative ire as the highest-ranking House Republican to vote to impeach Trump in January — raised nearly $1.54 million during the first three months of the year, her filings show.

That’s a record fundraising quarter for the No. 3 Republican in House leadership, but less than the amounts reported as of Thursday evening by some of her high-profile, Trump-supporting colleagues.

About 20% of Cheney’s money came from political action committees, including the Republican Jewish Coalition and business PACs associated with companies such as Pfizer, Comcast and Koch Industries, the industrial conglomerate run by billionaire Charles Koch.

Individual donors to Cheney included former Florida Gov. and onetime presidential candidate Jeb Bush; her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney; and Walmart heiress Christy Walton.

Thursday’s filings also offered a snapshot of the early money race as both parties gear up for the costly midterm battles for Congress.

First-year Democrats build big war chests

Sen. Raphael Warnock‘s contest for a US Senate seat in Georgia was one of the most expensive Senate races in US history. And the Democrat has continued raising money at a fast clip since his victory in a January special-election runoff.

Warnock’s political operation raised $5.7 million during the first quarter — as he prepared to appear on the ballot again in 2022 to compete for a full six-term term, his team told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He entered April with a little more than $5.6 million in cash reserves.

Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, another first-year Democrat who will be on the ballot again in 2022, also reported a substantial cash haul. The former astronaut raised $4.4 million during his first three months in office and reported nearly $4.4 million cash on hand.

Another newcomer to the Senate, California Democrat Alex Padilla, raised nearly $2.5 million in the first quarter and entered April with about $2.4 million in cash on hand, his filing shows. Padilla was appointed to Vice President Kamala Harris’ vacated seat and has a chance to compete for a full six-year term in 2022.

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