How many other people have been able to run a presidential campaign and make money doing it? Trump supporters are already defending this, saying “Why would he use other vendors?” I suppose that’s true but what exactly are those businesses charging? Is it fair market value or is he inflating costs to increase the checks written back to the businesses?
Politico has details on the money being collected from the campaign:
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has paid his family’s businesses more than $8.2 million, according to a POLITICO analysis of campaign finance filings, which reveals an integrated business and political operation without precedent in national politics.
The GOP presidential nominee’s campaign has paid his various businesses for services including rent for his campaign offices ($1.3 million), food and facilities for events and meetings ($544,000) and payroll for Trump corporate staffers ($333,000) who helped with everything from his traveling security to his wife’s convention speech.
In all, the Trump campaign’s payments to Trump-owned businesses account for about 7 percent of its $119 million spending total, the analysis found.
That’s an unprecedented amount of self-dealing in federal politics. Even the wealthiest of candidates have refrained from tapping their businesses’ resources to such an extensive degree, either because their businesses are structured in a manner that doesn’t legally allow them to do it with flexibility, or because they’re leery of the allegations of pocket-padding that inevitably arise when politicians use their campaigns or committees to pay their businesses or families.
Of course, we’re talking about Donald Trump. Ethics isn’t high up in his priorities list. In fact, Trump is taking advantage of the situation:
Quite to the contrary, Trump — who in 2000 predicted “I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it” — has used the campaign itself as a marketing platform to promote everything from the difficult-to-find Trump Steaks to his golf courses and a new Washington hotel.
Trump Steaks. Good grief. This guy has no compunction about putting his name on almost anything including cheap bottles of water (Trump Ice).
Finally there is this:
And last week, he lured the political press corp to his new Washington hotel by promising a revelation about his longstanding allegations that President Obama was born overseas, which he finally disavowed. Before getting to that, though, he took the opportunity to promote the hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in the Old Post Office.
Whatever the campaign paid to use the ballroom in the Old Post Office that day won’t be disclosed until next month’s FEC report. But back in January, the campaign spent $5,000 to rent space in the hotel.
So basically, Trump used the event as a means of trolling the media, and his own hotel is going to make money from it. I guess one could give him credit for that. Trump seems to be the type that could squeeze a nickel until a snot flew out of Jefferson’s nose.
Still, it all comes off as unseemly. It will be interesting to see what happens when they dig deeper.