Trump’s Donors Funnel $10.5 Million Into His Businesses During His Presidency
A supporter of President Donald Trump waits outside Trump National Golf Club as the president played golf in Sterling, Virginia on December 13th. (Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump's donors - the vast majority of them are working class supporters and retirees who donate few dollars a month - have poured $ 10.5 million into the former billionaire's personal affairs during his presidency, according to one HuffPost analysis.
Around $ 8.5 million came from the Trump campaign and related companies that Trump directly controls. Another $ 2 million came from other Republican candidates and committees.
Through a trust he controls, Trump owns the hotels, golf courses, and buildings that received the money, with every penny of profit going to him personally.
Since losing re-election to Democrat Joe Biden, Trump has continued his fundraiser. The vast majority of the money goes to a virtual slush fund that Trump can legally use for almost any purpose - from McDonald's Quarter Pounders to jet fuel to keep his plane quiet paying cash to women.
"When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you're Donald Trump, everything seems like an opportunity to make money," said Jordan Libowitz of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a surveillance group that has launched multiple lawsuits submitted for details on government spending in Trump's companies.
The HuffPost analysis is based on a review of filings by the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, and their two joint fundraising committees, which represent all spending between January 20, 2017 - Trump's inauguration day - and the day he is in office Has opened a re-election account - have been reported. and November 23rd, the final deadline for the final registration period this year.
Trump Tower, the New York City skyscraper where Trump has a penthouse residence and business offices, received donations of $ 1,716,155 in rental payments for space in his building, even though the campaign took place in a Washington high-rise office building Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the White House.
Trump's Washington hotel, where Trump ran multiple fundraisers, raised $ 967,599 in donations. His fighting golf resort near the Miami airport received $ 1,363,565. Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, where Trump played golf for three months of his presidency and also hosted several fundraising drives, received $ 639,031.
The biggest beneficiary, however, was Trump's New York City Hotel, which raised a total of $ 3,039,979 over the four years of his presidency, of which $ 891,003 in the last four months of the campaign.
One of the best RNC fundraisers near Trump admitted that the hotel isn't necessarily the best value for money. "The trump card is expensive," he said.
"It should come as no surprise that millions of political money have been channeled to his corporations or through opaque corporations to hide how much has flowed into his inner circle," Libowitz said.
Meanwhile, Trump's Washington hotel, just blocks from the White House, was the biggest recipient of money from Republican candidates and groups outside Trump's control: $ 1,632,700 over four years, which is 84% of the total The equivalent of $ 1,944,243 that Trump received from all properties from 166 GOP groups. These included Rick Scott for Florida, who spent $ 20 there, and America First Action, the pro-Trump super-PAC, which spent $ 573,132.
Hide hundreds of millions
Trump's various committees managed to hide $ 761 million of their spending - most of his spending - by channeling it through a purpose-built Shell firm and through his manager's private company for the re-election campaign. The Trump campaign and the RNC formed the shell company American Made Media Consultants in an attempt to supposedly save money on ad purchases by eliminating the middleman. it received $ 721.8 million. Campaign manager Brad Parscale's companies have now received $ 39.7 million.
During the campaign, Parscale companies secretly paid $ 15,000 a month to Kimberly Guilfoyle - friend of Trump's eldest son Donald Trump Jr. - and Lara Trump - wife of Trump's middle son, Eric Trump. Guilfoyle chaired Trump Victory, the campaign's big dollar fundraiser. Lara Trump was a "senior advisor" to the campaign.
The campaign forwarded its payments through Parscale Strategies on the orders of the President himself, according to a Republican familiar with campaign finances, who spoke to HuffPost on condition of anonymity.
A similar maneuver was used to hide the amounts flowing into Trump's chief campaign strategist Jason Miller, whose name never appears in the FEC filings. He was secretly receiving $ 35,000 a month that was passed through American Made to his former employer, GOP consultancy Jamestown Associates, the Republican source said. This monthly payment amount was first reported by Business Insider.
Miller is embroiled in a lengthy alimony lawsuit with his son's mother, and hiding his income could help him reduce the amount owed. The Republican close to the campaign said Miller never explained why he wanted his payments to be this way. "It was easy enough to know why, however," the source said.
Miller, other Trump campaign officials, and the RNC did not respond to HuffPost requests on this or any other subject for this report.
"The law requires political candidates and parties to tell voters how campaign money is being spent," said Brendan Fischer, an attorney for the Campaign Legal Center who has filed a complaint with the FEC on the matter. "But Trump and the RNC directed their policy spending through Shell companies, leaving the public in the dark about where over three quarters of a billion dollars has actually gone."
The final totals for the Trump campaign and RNC spending will not be publicly available until January 31, when the FEC has finalized 2020 election year filings.
This date is also the first opportunity to see how much Trump raised and spent on Save America. The political committee that Trump formed six days after the election and that received a majority of every dollar raised through his fundraiser in late November.
Building a Slush Fund
Most campaigns end their requests after an election. But Trump and the RNC continued at almost the same rapid pace as in the weeks leading up to the election. As a result, the campaign boasted sales of $ 207.5 million in a December 3 press release.
It is unclear how this money will be used. Trump's email and text inquiries said the money was used to legally challenge his loss of the election and win two runoff elections in Georgia that will determine control of the Senate. However, the fine print on donation websites showed that the money is going elsewhere.
In the first few days after Trump lost the election, 60% of every dollar raised went into his campaign to pay off the debt. The rest went to the RNC General Fund. As of November 18, a full 75% of every dollar goes to Trump's Save America, the rest to the RNC.
A donor would have to give $ 6,667 before a single cent goes to Trump's special "recount" fund - an unlikely scenario given that requests are sent to his small dollar donor list.
Depending on how much of that $ 207.5 million came in before November 18 and how much after that, Trump could easily leave the White House if he has more than $ 150 million personally available.
Since the new committee is structured as a "PAC for Executives" and there are almost no restrictions on its spending, Trump could legally use the money for almost anything he wants. In fact, one of the few things he can't use the money on is a formal 2024 campaign.
"His donors are being betrayed," said Robert Weissman, president of the liberal monitoring group Public Citizen. "They believe that they are contributing to his legal battle to throw out the election results, even though their money does not support his pathetic lawsuits for sabotaging our democracy, but rather a PAC of leadership."
Libowitz added, "It is likely that all donors to this committee are guaranteed to replenish its bottom line."
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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