THE ART OF THE STEAL: Donors’ Money Flowing To Trump Businesses
During the Florida primary, the pastor giving the invocation at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago victory party prayed: “Lord, give Mr. Trump the power to rise above the GOP establishment,” and Donald Trump knew how to make the prayer work.
Not only did the New York businessman-turned-reality-TV-star-turned-presidential nominee win the Republican nomination, but the same day Trump signed a deal with the Republican National Committee giving him access to its fundraising operation Trump executed his master plan.
With tens of millions of dollars of other people’s money now pouring in, the Trump campaign started sending five- and six-figure checks to Trump’s properties for events that had happened months earlier. Meaning that the GOP establishment had not only been defeated, it was now actually paying for that March 15 victory party attended primarily by members of Trump’s Palm Beach country club!
According to a recent investigation published by The Huffington Post, “about $1 million went out the door on May 18. More than $600,000 of that went to Trump-owned businesses, with $423,000 of it going to Mar-a-Lago alone, which hosted that March 15 party, an earlier one on March 1 and a news conference on March 11.”
Moreover, after RNC deal was signed, Trump began charging his campaign for office space at his Trump Tower in Manhattan, even as his campaign staff actually shrank from its primary season peak. At that point, the campaign moved into larger quarters and ramped up its rent payments from $35,500 a month to $170,000 a month, The Huffington post reports.
The ‘expenses’ are listed as “facility rental/catering,” and the resort does not appear to have hosted any other campaign events. Trump’s campaign would not provide an explanation.
Paul S. Ryan from the Campaign Legal Center watchdog group called Trump’s heavy spending on his own properties “unprecedented” and said the timing of the payments is curious.
“Any way you slice it, this level of self-dealing looks bad. It looks like a candidate who is pocketing donors’ money,” he said.
Increased scrutiny of Trump’s spending patterns could not come at a worse time for the developer-turned-reality-TV-star-turned-presidential nominee. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has announced that she and her party raised $143 million in the month of August, a figure that could dwarf the amount pulled in by Trump and the RNC.
RNC members supporting Trump said most GOP donors probably don’t know the details about how Trump’s campaign is spending their money.
“I think they’re only vaguely aware,” said Florida strategist Rick Wilson. “It’s Putinesque.”
“It’s such a scam,” added Stuart Stevens, a top aide to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
What do you think?
H/T: Huffington Post.