President Donald Trump’s re-election fundraising is going gangbusters, and so is the income his own businesses are reaping from those contributions. The president’s 2020 campaign has already spent close to $500,000 on Trump’s businesses, from golf resorts to Trump Tower rent, according to new campaign finance filings.
The pattern of spending is similar to that in Trump’s 2016 campaign, when a significant chunk of contributions went to his own companies. In the single month of May last year, Trump’s campaign spent more than $1 million on catering, rent and utilities at more than a half-dozen Trump-owned companies and properties. The campaign paid $350,000 alone to Trump’s TAG Air for the use of private jets and helicopters.
In the first quarter of this year, according to the latest reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission, Trump has spent $6.3 million in re-election funds. Among the nearly half-a-million dollars paid to Trump operations, $274,000 went for rent at Trump Tower in Manhattan, where the re-election operation is headquartered, according to a tally of the reported figures by The Wall Street Journal. An additional $59,000 was spent on stays at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, and $14,000 went for food and rent at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.
The FEC filings also reveal salaries paid to Trump’s re-election workers, including 27-year-old John Pence, nephew of Vice President Mike Pence, who was paid $40,000 for the first three months of the year.
One of the biggest payments overall went to the San Antonio, Texas, digital media firm run by the campaign’s digital director Brad Parscale, which raked in a cool $1.6 million.
Trump’s re-election fundraising is already the target of a complaint by Common Cause and the Campaign Legal Center. The complaint, filed with the FEC, accuses the campaign of improperly encouraging donors to contribute the maximum allowed by law twice, once to retire old campaign debt (which doesn’t exist, according to the watchdog organizations) and then again for the 2020 race.