Donald Trump has directed nearly one-fifth of his campaign cash to companies part of his vast business empire
That spending has created fodder for Hillary Clinton
Donald Trump has directed nearly one-fifth of his campaign cash to companies that are part of his vast business empire, new federal records show.
Trump, hurting for cash after he suddenly stopped self-funding his campaign last month, has mixed his public campaign and his private ventures for nearly the entire 2016 race. He has promoted Trump products at campaign events, publicly litigated a federal civil suit he’s facing over Trump University on talk shows, and, this week, will bring the political press to Scotland for a tour of a Trump golf course.
And it shows in his latest campaign finance report, filed Monday: Trump-linked businesses account for 17% of all campaign expenses to date. He’s paid almost $11 million to Trump organizations since launching his campaign a year ago.
The setup shows how unusual Trump’s campaign is – presidential candidates generally don’t own buildings or resorts in multiple states or companies that could be used as contractors.
He’s paid $420,000 to Mar-a-Lago, the private Florida club where Trump has led many an Election Night celebration, and $4.6 million to TAG Air, so he can use his private jets. Even about $5,000 to Eric Trump Winery Manufacturing LLC, the Virginia producer owned by his son.
That spending has created fodder for Hillary Clinton.
“What is Trump spending his meager campaign resources on? Why, himself, of course,” she tweeted Tuesday.
What Trump is doing is legal: He is required to pay fair market value for the goods and services enjoyed by his campaign – otherwise, they would have to be considered in-kind contributions. For those items, Trump would be, essentially, donating them to himself. Yet every time Trump uses one of his planes to drop in on hangars in swing states, his official campaign will be funneling dollars back to a Trump-backed entity.
It also highlights a concern some Republican donors have stated about Trump – that because his personal donations to his campaign are classified as loans, he could end up using campaign gifts from others to pay himself back.
Trump has told donors their money will be used for the campaign, not for himself.
“I have absolutely no intention of paying myself back,” Trump said in a statement last month.
Other expenses include $577,000 for payroll and rent at Trump Tower, which doubles as campaign headquarters, and $4.7 million to Ace Specialties, which supplies Trump’s online store and whose owner is Christl Mahfouz, who sits on the board of directors of Eric Trump’s foundation.
And $400 to Trump Ice LLC, which makes bottled waters.
Trump may be facing a serious cash crunch, with only $1.3 million on hand at the beginning of this month. But that’s not stopping down this Trump “spending.”
Just in May, he spent $208,000 on hats, $5,000 on signs and $694,000 on t-shirts, mugs and stickers.