President Trump has shifted $1.1 million from his 2020 re-election campaign into his own pocket by charging the campaign for rent at Trump Tower, rooms at Trump-owned hotels and mysterious legal expenses, Forbes reported Thursday.
Federal filings show that Trump Tower Commercial LLC, an entity 100% owned by the president, has billed the Trump re-election campaign for $665,000 in rent, and the Republican National Committee for $225,000 in rent. Neither organization would comment, so it’s unclear how much space was rented. But the total works out to $6,300 a month for each person on the Trump 2020 payroll, Forbes says.
According to Federal Election Commission rules, a political campaign can only purchase goods and services from a candidate’s business if it pays “fair-market price.” According to StreetEasy listings, recent rentals in the buildings owned by Trump Plaza LLC go for $3,700 to $3,850 a month.
Meanwhile, Trump Plaza LLC, another Trump-owned company, has taken $42,000 of donor money since November 2017 for “rent,” according to campaign filings. But Trump Plaza LLC controls a retail space, garage and two brownstones near Third Avenue in Manhattan. There are no signs of Trump 2020 operations at the retail area or garage. During Forbes reporter Dan Alexander’s 14-hour stakeout of the brownstones, six people who came out of the buildings said they’d seen no trace of the campaign. A man behind the front desk at Trump Plaza also hadn’t seen anything campaign related. “I’ve been here since the beginning,” he said. “If there was any kind of office rented out for campaigning or whatever, I would know about it.”
Trump 2020’s questionable expenses aren’t limited to real estate. One month after special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to oversee the Russia investigation, the re-election campaign paid the Trump Corporation $90,000 for “legal expenses.” Neither the campaign or the company would specify what those were.
The campaign has also spent at least $135,000 at the Trump-owned hotels in Washington, D.C. and Las Vegas.
“The richest president in American history has turned $1.1 million from donors across the country into revenue for himself,” concludes Alexander.