A Forbes report has broken down a number of charges President Donald Trump has paid into his own businesses from his 2020 re-election campaign donations, finding that they total $1.3 million, according to his latest campaign filings. The charges include expenses for food, rent, lodging, and other charges taken out of donation funds that were given to his re-election campaign and which have been shifted into the accounts of businesses Trump owns.
Tens of thousands of people have contributed to his re-election campaign, totaling around $50 million, but since being elected, the self-proclaimed billionaire hasn’t kicked in any cash of his own toward his re-election. That’s despite claims he made when he announced his candidacy that he wouldn’t be using anyone’s money but his own, a promise he kept until June of 2016, up until which point he spent $50 million of his own cash.
“I’m using my own money,” Trump said at the time. “I’m not using the lobbyists.”
“I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.”
But since becoming president, Trump has begun recovering some of the cash he put up, and the report questioned some of the ways he went about it. For example, Trump has pushed $800,000 from his campaign funds into Trump Tower Commercial LLC, the holding company through which Trump owns his portion of Trump Tower. And Trump Tower also charged the Republican National Committee $225,000 for rent. So since he was inaugurated, Trump’s re-election campaign has already pumped over $1 million into his most well-known property.
And Forbes’ investigators found some charges that were even more inexplicable, including $54,000 in charges listed as “rent” to Trump Plaza LLC, which controls two New York City brownstone apartments. When reporters investigated, they could finds nobody living or working in the apartments, and even the desk clerk was puzzled.
“If there was any kind of office rented out for campaigning or whatever, I would know about it,” Forbes was told.
Another charge of $60,000 appeared to be going to a kiosk near the Trump Grill, where people can buy hats, T-shirts, and other campaign swag. According to the reporters’ rough estimates, the kiosk measured around 60 square feet in total, meaning that with monthly payments of $3,000 since the inauguration, the campaign has been paying roughly $600 a square foot.
For reference, Gucci’s prime Fifth Avenue location pays around $440 a square foot.
Although the campaign said that the rents it pays reflect 2020 market value, one person familiar with the New York estate market the magazine interviewed disagreed on the $3,000 monthly payment for the tiny kiosk.
“That’s robbery,” they said.