Donald Trump continued to shift money from his donors to his business last month, as his reelection campaign paid his private companies for rent, food, lodging and other expenses, according to a review of the latest Federal Election Commission filings. The richest president in American history, who has yet to donate to his 2020 campaign, has now moved $2.3 million of contributions from other people into his private companies.
The most recent expenses look familiar. The president accepted $38,000 in rent last month through Trump Tower Commercial LLC, the entity that owns his Fifth Avenue skyscraper. Since Trump took office, his campaign has paid that company $1.5 million, more than any other property in the Trump empire, according to an analysis of federal filings. The Republican National Committee also coordinated with the campaign to pay Trump Tower Commercial LLC an additional $225,000.
Trump got another $8,000 in July via the Trump Corporation, a management company that he owns. The precise reason for those payments is unclear. Campaign filings describe the rationale as “legal & IT consulting” but it’s still a mystery why Trump’s management company is providing such services. The Trump Corporation has now taken in $281,000 from the campaign since the president entered the Oval Office.
More money went to Trump Restaurants LLC, another company the president owns outright. Those payments may be connected to a kiosk in the basement of Trump Tower that sells campaign memorabilia. It’s hard to imagine that the kiosk has been doing much business amid the coronavirus crisis, but the campaign has continued to pay its rent, $3,000 per month. Trump Restaurants LLC has gotten $117,000 since its owner became president.
Trump Hotel Collection, in which Trump also owns a 100% interest, received another $1,000 in July. The campaign has paid Trump’s hotel properties $226,000 since Inauguration Day, according to the analysis of federal filings.
Not every company cashed in last month. Forbes found no payments to Mar-a-Lago, the president’s golf clubs, or Trump Plaza LLC—an entity that controls property on Third Avenue in Manhattan and previously collected regular rent from the reelection effort.
Trump’s machinations have been going on for years now. Forbes first reported on money moving from his reelection campaign to his business in 2018. The amount has more than doubled since then.
The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment. A representative for the Trump campaign ignored a series of questions about the payments and instead issued a broad statement. “The campaign complies with all campaign finance laws and FEC regulations,” the statement said. “The campaign pays fair market value under negotiated rental agreements and other service agreements in compliance with the law. The campaign works closely with campaign counsel to ensure strict compliance in this regard.”
In addition to the campaign, the Republican National Committee and the president’s joint-fundraising committees have also paid millions of dollars to Trump’s businesses. Last month, Forbes reported on $4.7 million of payments from those entities since Trump took office. The president’s total haul—from his campaign, party and joint fundraising committees—now stands at more than $6.9 million.
Not a meaningless sum, even for a billionaire.
With additional reporting by Michela Tindera.
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