And, it’s all purrrfectly legal.
According to the latest election filings,Trump’s campaign had paid $1.3 million to rent campaign office space in his own building. It’s spent another $544,000 for food and meeting space from Trump companies and $333,000 for travel security provided by Trump employees.
The biggest ticket item, so far, appears to be $6 million paid to TAG Air to lease his private plane for campaign travel.
He’s also paid to himself another $423,000 for his campaign’s use of Mar-A-Lago, his Florida estate, and his Florida golf club.
No Trump company appears too small to dip into campaign cash. The campaign paid $1,300 to Trump Ice for bottled water and $5,000 to a Virginia winery owed by son Eric Trump for catering and event space, according to the accounting.
Trump famously boasted that he would finance his campaign out of his own pocket to avoid entanglements with corporations and special interests, something for which he’s criticized rival Hillary Clinton.
But Trump began setting up fundraising committees in May and started raising money from the same type of special interests.
Although he’s provided his campaign with $54 million, according to Politico, much of that money is in the form of loans.
His campaign will continue to be able to raise funds even after the election until the loans are paid back… with interest.
But it isn’t just about money. Trump has used his campaign as a branding opportunity for some of his businesses.
Trump gave a primary election speech in March at his Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago, that was widely criticized as an “infomercial” for Trump steaks, water, magazines and wine.
The GOP candidate pulled another fast one last week when he called a news conference at his new hotel in Washington, D.C.
He promised to address the so-called “birther” issue. But he spent most of the time talking about his new hotel while news cameras rolled.
“Historically, candidates would separate themselves from their business interests when running for office,” Paul S. Ryan, a campaign finance expert with the Campaign Legal Center, told The New York Times.
But Trump is setting another new precedent in this election–how to profit, win or lose, running for office.
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