When Donald Trump Talks About A Self-Funding Campaign He Doesn't Mean What You Think

Visible left to right: Tiffany Trump, Lara Yunaska,, Eric Trump, Barron Trump, Melania Trump, Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. watch balloons and confetti fall during celebrations following Donald Trump's acceptance speech on the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The salient and most remarkable feature of Donald Trump’s life has been his ability to bounce from one business disaster to another, much like a ball ricocheting off bumpers in a pinball machine, while racking up winnings at each bankruptcy. He is running his campaign in exactly the same way.

Trump nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign, according to a Huffington Post review of Federal Election Commission filings. The rent jumped even though he was paying fewer staff in July than he did in March.

The Trump campaign paid Trump Tower Commercial LLC $35,458 in March ― the same amount it had been paying since last summer ― and had 197 paid employees and consultants. In July, it paid 172 employees and consultants.

You read that correctly. Since Trump started taking outside contributions he has shed staff and increased the rent on the same space fivefold. But, of course, being a Trump property it must me lavishly appointed:

John McEntee, a staffer for Donald Trump's 2016 Republican presidential campaign, works at his desk inside the Trump campaign headquarters located in Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. The billionaire front-runner for the Republican nomination continues his momentum this fall by preparing media ads and holding public appearance throughout the country. Photographer: Ali Elkin/Bloomberg via Getty Images
John McEntee, a staffer for Donald Trump’s 2016 Republican presidential campaign, works at his desk inside the Trump campaign headquarters located in Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. The billionaire front-runner for the Republican nomination continues his momentum this fall by preparing media ads and holding public appearance throughout the country. Photographer: Ali Elkin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

This image is not a parody.

When he travels, his campaign ends up paying Trump money for his lodging.

In addition to the rent for Trump Tower space in Manhattan, Trump has paid his eponymous golf courses and restaurants more than $260,000 since his campaign and the RNC struck a joint fundraising deal in mid-May, after he essentially locked up the GOP nomination. On May 18, the day the fundraising deal was announced, Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach was paid $29,715; Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, was paid $35,845; and Trump Restaurants LLC was paid $125,080, according to FEC records. Such large payments were much rarer when Trump was self-funding.

Of course, the apples don’t fall all that far from the tree.

Republican Donald Trump has so far paid $7.7 million in campaign contributions to his own companies and children, according to a filing with the Federal Elections Commission, and as the campaign transitions to the general election those payments are increasing. In May, they totaled at least $1.1 million—nearly 20 percent of all campaign spending that month—and in July, another $800,000 came into the Trump brood.

In July alone, Trump’s campaign paid $169,758.33 in rent to Trump Tower Corporation LLC, $48,239.77 for rent and catering at Trump National Golf Club in Weschester, $1,000 to Trump Restaurants LLC, and $428.53 worth of Trump’s bottled water Trump Ice. In May, Trump’s campaign spent $3,938.58 at the vineyard run by his son Eric. Campaign dollars are also funneled to allies of Trump’s children. Each month, the campaign spends millions on apparel like the “Make America Great Again” trucker hats. The manufacturer, Ace Specialties, is owned by Christl Mahfouz, a board member on Eric Trump’s charitable foundation.

The intertwining of campaign and business takes shape in other ways. The day after daughter Ivanka gave her speech at the Republican convention wearing a dress from her eponymous fashion line, she tweeted about where people could buy it (Nordstroms.com and Macys.com quickly sold out).

So when Donald Trump claims to be self-funding he’s being totally honest. He’s funding himself.