Donald Trump hasn’t exactly gotten rich off running for president or holding office, but he’s made reasonably good bank on the deal, exactly as everyone was reporting during the campaign. A new report by the group Public Citizen and obtained by McClatchy shows Trump businesses have pulled in at least $15 million from political groups and government spending since 2015, and that’s just the amount the group has been able to glean from public records and FOIA requests. It’s just like Trump’s beautiful dream back in 2000, when he told Fortune magazine, “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.
And hey, big surprise: The single largest glob of that $15 million came straight from the Trump campaign, about $13.4 million, which it’s important to note was not Donald Trump paying himself — for all his claims that he was financing his own campaign, he was really good at spending other people’s money on the campaign, which of course spent scads of money on stuff other than Trump properties, too. But Trump businesses made out OK, what with the events at Trump properties and Trump charging the campaign (and later, the Secret Service) plenty for use of his own aircraft and office rentals.
With the Trump campaign accounting for 90 percent of the money that went to Trump businesses, the rest of the spending came from other political groups:
It also includes more than $717,000 from the Republican National Committee; nearly $595,000 from Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee set up by the RNC and Trump’s campaign; and $9,000 from the National Republican Senate Committee.
Two political action committees, American First Action, dedicated to electing federal candidates who support Trump’s agenda, spent $33,000 and Great America Committee, Vice President Mike Pence’s group, spent $24,000.
It’s been a pretty flush few years for political spending at Trump businesses, which, before the Grifter in Chief decided it might be fun to run for president, hardly pulled in any money from politicking: under $20,000 for 2013 and 2014.
McClatchy notes that it’s difficult to pin down exactly how much money Trump and his family are making off his political career, because there is no one federal clearinghouse of spending going straight into the “president’s” pockets. Just take his word for it, though, Donald Trump is ethical as fuck, OK? And it’s perfectly normal that, since being inaugurated, Trump has spent 138 days so far at properties he owns, mostly in Florida, New Jersey, and Virginia. You wouldn’t expect him to spend money on a stranger’s golf course like a common Obama, would you? Then you have things like the $137,000 the Secret Service shelled out just for golf cart rentals at Trump properties in 2017 — though to be fair, that contract does run through May of this year, so talk about a bargain.
Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of Califonia has some nutty ideas about how political leaders should probably not be making money on their own time in office, and has introduced a bill that would prohibit the spending of taxpayer funds at any property owned by an officeholder, which seems completely crazy, because then the money would still be spent, but the officeholder wouldn’t get a cut, and wouldn’t that betray the reason Thomas Jefferson rode the Statue of Liberty through the streets of Boston to cry, “I have a Dream! Support the Troops!”
In completely unrelated news, CNN reports that, of the $3.9 million the Trump re-election campaign has spent so far this year, a fifth has gone to legal fees, according to the campaign’s filings with the Federal Elections Commission. Thank goodness he doesn’t own any law firms, huh?
About $835,000 in payments for “legal consulting” were made to eight firms and the Trump Corporation, with the most — $347,000 — going to Jones Day. Another $185,000 went to the firm Larocca Hornik Rosen Greenberg & Blaha. About $24,000 went to the Trump Corporation.
Well, then. And yep, here it is:
Guess he does own some lawyers, then. Including those legal fees, the campaign has so far spent about $150,000 during the first quarter of 2018 at Trump-owned businesses, with a hefty $68,000 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, for “event rental space, hotel stays and parking.” As the midterm election season moves along, we can probably look forward to a whole lot of very important campaign travel — if only Trump can find a way to get Republicans from states without Trump properties to campaign at Mar-a-Lago.
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