December 16, 2016
Donald Trump Paid $12.5 Million To His Own Businesses During Presidential Campaign [Video]

Over the course of his campaign, Donald Trump broke an election record. Over 18 months, the former reality TV star turned-president-elect dropped a whopping $12.5 million of his campaign money out to his own family members and various Trump businesses. According to at least one "campaign finance watchdog," Donald Trump spent more of his campaign's money on his own businesses than any other candidate in the history of U.S. elections.

Of the multitudes of Donald Trump-owned companies that reaped financial windfalls over the course of his campaign, the president-elect's airplane operation company got the most green while Trump was campaigning. Overall, Tag Air Inc., which Donald Trump owns, was paid out nearly $9 million by itself ($8.7 million in total). Other massive Trump beneficiaries of the Donald Trump campaign spending beast were Trump Tower Commercial LLC and Trump Payroll Corp; they were paid $2.2 million over the course of Donald Trump's presidential bid, reports CNNMoney.

The totals reflected in this article were calculated by a CNN review of federal records, and some find the numbers to be shocking.

According to general counsel Larry Noble of Campaign Legal Center, the Trump campaign's practice of spending money on Trump-owned businesses and services was virtually unprecedented.

"I don't think we've ever seen one like this."
As the Washington Post reports, Donald Trump and his campaign continued raking in donations even after his upset election night victory. In fact, between November 8 and December 8, Donald Trump and his campaign collected fully $3.5 million from donors -- not including so-called "low dollar" donations.

The donations Donald Trump collected after he won the 2016 presidential race were largely solicited from the millions of donors whose email addresses the president-elect and his people collected and stored over the course of the campaign cycle. Many of the post-election donations to the Donald Trump campaign resulted in donors receiving Donald Trump merchandise, such as books, hats, and even Christmas ornaments.

In all, the month between October 20 to November 28 marked the first time during the election that Donald Trump raised more money that Hillary Clinton.

While the Donald Trump fundraising machine has been and continues to be wildly successful, many are raising eyebrows and asking questions about the legality, morality, and ethics of a U.S. presidential candidate funneling so much of his campaign money into his own businesses (and therefore back into his own pocket). In truth, while unprecedented, it is highly unlikely that Donald Trump broke any laws with his campaign spending -- at least when it comes to the money he paid out to his own businesses, as well as businesses belonging to his family members.

According to Noble, who said Donald Trump's campaign spending was unlike anything the U.S. has ever seen, Trump was within the law and his rights to purchase products and services from his own businesses over the course of his campaign. That is, so long as he wasn't inflating prices and attempting to pad the bill(s).

"If he did it legally and it was in the ordinary course of business, you have to say that he's allowed to do that. If he was doing it to make a profit off of it, and he charged more than he was supposed to have charged, then there is a problem."
While neither Donald Trump nor his campaign have commented on CNN's findings regarding his business and his campaign spending, there is no evidence that they did any of those things.

The list of Trump campaign expenditures that were paid out to Trump businesses is a long and varied one, with his hotels and golf clubs being paid almost $1.5 million and his restaurants and food service businesses picking up $238,000 throughout the campaign.

Son Eric Trump saw his wine business, Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing, paid out to the tune of over $32,000.

While it is not unheard of for a presidential candidate to spend money at their own company over the course of a campaign, Donald Trump was able to do so at an unbelievable level that no prior candidate could match.
"The issue here, in part, was the scale at which it was done. He had these businesses. He could do it at such a tremendous scale."
What do you think? Was it inappropriate for the president-elect to spend so much money for goods and services from his own companies? Or was it okay for Donald Trump to spend his campaign funds on his own businesses, effectively putting the cash back into his own coffers?

[Featured Image by Gene J. Puskar/AP Images]