Is Trump Really Self-Financing His Campaign?

Facts are a stubborn thing. Donald Trump says over and over that he is self-financing his campaign. That is not exactly true, or it is misleading at best.

is Trump's most recent FEC report. The two most startling points are that:
  1. Candidate Contribution are listed at $31,751,
  2. Debts/Loans Owed By his campaign are listed at $17,534,058!

Additionally, total contributions are listed at $941,007. These are broken down into two categories. The first is itemized contributions, which is listed at $232,381, and the second is unitemized contributions, which is listed at $708,626. The difference is that itemized contributions are donations where the donor's name and address is recorded because the donation is more than $200 in a calendar year, whereas an unitemized donation is less than $200 in a calendar year.

In 2015, his FEC reports state that Trump took in about $1.6 million in itemized contributions, and $4.9 million in unitemized contributions. However, for the same period his own contributions were listed at $218,565. He took in $6.5 million in donations, and donated $218,000 of his own money. He also racked up $12,620,297 in debt and loans.

For the reporting period in January, "candidate loans" is listed at $4.9 million. This is a LOAN. It is not a normal contribution. The only reason a candidate makes a loan to a campaign is because he or she intends to raise the money later to get paid back. Therefore, saying that a candidate is self-financing is misleading because this is money that he will later be able to get back by raising money through donations and contributions.

If Trump wins the presidency, he would have no problem raising money to pay himself back the money he loaned his campaign. In the event that he loses the presidency, he could solicit donations to his campaign in exchange for business deals to pay back the loans, which may not be entirely legal. In a negotiation, it is not outside the realm of anyone's imagination to surmise Trump saying to a business partner some convoluted questionably legal version of "Donate to my (unsuccessful) campaign and you've got yourself a deal."

The media has been Trump's biggest donor. Giving him hundreds of hours in free air time. Trump has been a master at exploiting this free air time. By stating something provocative he ensures that viewers and therefore networks will pay attention. Without a doubt, this has been worth millions of dollars in airtime, airtime that Trump has used to move his message.

Important questions
Trump is running up a lot of debt and loans. Is this a prelude to a president Trump? If Trump is misleading people about self-financing his campaign, what else is he misleading the American public about? We can say what we want about Trump, but he is playing this race like a master concert pianist.